Michael Maiello's picture

    Common Sense About Making Fun of Islam

    When 12 people die violently and needlessly and a newspaper essayist doesn't have a lot of time to process events, things get said.  In The Financial TimesTony Barber gave us this:

    This is not in the slightest to condone the murderers, who must be caught and punished, or to suggest that freedom of expression should not extend to satirical portrayals of religion. It is merely to say that some common sense would be useful at publications such as Charlie Hebdo, and Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten, which purport to strike a blow for freedom when they provoke Muslims.

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    An Atheist's Creed

    I quite deliberately used the indefinite article "An" in the title for I in no way intend to speak for all atheists. As I've mentioned before on this site, I was raised a Christian, and that has no doubt influenced my worldview. If I were to create a creed for all atheists, it'd simply be, "I do not believe that gods exist." That is what is sometimes referred to as weak atheism (no insult intended). It is the type of atheism that animals and babies have, and that some adults claim to have (I'm skeptical about that). Strong atheism is the belief that there are no gods. Some people have a hard time distinguishing between those two statements, but the former is a lack of belief in gods, and the latter is a belief in the lack of gods. For those who use this terminology (and it's definitely not universal), there's also weak agnosticism – an uncertainty in one's beliefs, and strong agnosticism – a belief that such knowledge is ultimately unknowable for anyone. Again, the terms weak and strong should not be considered judgments about those positions.

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Your New Year's Public Domain Report, 2015

    I'm late with my annual public-domain update this year. But that's okay because yet again this year, nothing new entered the public domain this January 1. That's right, because of repeated extensions of the copyright laws in the US, no copyrights expired this year. Or last year. Or the year before. Almost none have since January 1, 1979.

    Danny Cardwell's picture

    Is There A Spiritual Path To Reason?

    It's been my experience that faith rooted in cautious optimism and doubt is less likely to devolve into dogmatism. All of us believe something: especially those trapped in nihilism who profess not to believe anything. The amount of certainty one places in their worldview, coupled with an inability to accept or even process information contrary to that worldview, leads directly to a solipsistic position that makes civil discussions about religion almost impossible. The inability to consider ideas that don't originate from people who share your worldview is symptomatic of deep dogmatism.

    Wattree's picture

    I Pay my Tithes to the Homeless

    I used to routinely challenge Rev. Hill. I didn’t want to seem impudent or like a rebel rouser (after all, I was a child), but there was something inside of me that just YEARNED to let him know that I had his number - and I did. I was only 14, but by that time I had already been highly political for 4 years. I’d become fixated on politics by watching the campaign between JFK and Nixon when I was 10 years old. So for me, it was just another political debate. But in order not to be disrespectful, I’d use the Socratic method of challenging his assertions with questions that he’d have to dig to try to answer. No, at the time, I didn't even know there was such a thing as the "Socratic Method," but being a respectful, though opinionated kid, the use of questions seemed to be a more appropriate way of respectfully challenging an  adult than direct confrontation. While I wanted to be heard, I didn't want to make myself look like a disrespectful brat. That not only would have reflected badly on my family, but my point would have been lost in the resulting furor, and I certainly didn't want that.

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Shakespeare "Authorship Debates" and Amateur Scholarship

    So, just in time to ruin my New Year's celebrations, Newsweek has seen fit to publish a credulous article trumpeting the old who-wrote-Shakespeare conspiracy theories. I won't give Newsweek a link, but you can click through Amanda Marcotte's smart takedown at Rawstory if you're curious.

    Michael Maiello's picture

    What Passes for Democratic Heroism in 2014

    Gina Raimondo, Governor of Rhode Island, says Frank Bruni of the New York Times.  As Treasurer of Rhode Island she addressed a public pension shortfall by completely suspending cost of living increases for already retired workers, in effect clawing back promised compensations from people who had already given their time and labor (commodities that, once given, can never be returned).  She was then elected Rhode Island's governor.

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    What's up with the white working class?

    There is a current meme in political commentary---can Hillary, Democrats, win back the white working class vote which was not particularly good in 2012, and seemed to deteriorate even more in 2014? My first response is, for a lot of reasons, I don't like the term "working class" because it is meant to describe whites---with little college education who work with their hands and who are in the lower half, or less, of the economic stratus---as less than or low than. This group describes a lot of friends, relatives and workers with whom I mostly interact. If I must categorize these folks analytically I would rather use a term like heartlander working stiff, or as a last resort, Walmart Mom. They run our infrastructure. And they are numerous. There are, for example, far more white working class folks than black working class folks---hang on, I want to google that---black working class....

    Ramona's picture

    The Jon Swift Memorial Roundup 2014

    Hey, Daggers, here is the link to the Jon Swift Roundup, 2014.  As Michael W. told us, this is an annual roundup of the best of the 2014 blogs, as chosen for the most part by the bloggers themselves.  We did things a little differently and held a contest, which Wattree won.  Both Wattree and Doc Cleveland are there representing dagblog. 

    I thought you all might enjoy reading some posts from an assemblage of a few bloggers you may or may not be acquainted with.  Good reading!

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Middle Class Struggles Are All In Your Head?

    Congratulations, members of the American middle class!  Robert Samuelson at The Washington Post says that the system is rigged in your favor by craven politicians hunting for votes.

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    Danny Cardwell's picture

    What If Jesus Was Just A Teacher and Philosopher?

    "Christ, not Christianity, is the power that has soothed and satisfied the spirit of the great multitude which no man can number." --CANON AINGER

    ​Why do we need religion in our post modern condition? This type of question turns off many believers, yet it's a question any person of faith will deal with--whether we want to or not. Our doubts and insecurities are real. The manner in which we deal with these doubts is what will build or crumble our faith. Christians around the world are preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus, yet our influence on the world is lessening. We aren't as effective as many of us would like to be, and some of us won't even try to make a difference. How have we (Christians) become so impotent?

    Richard Day's picture

    A SEASON OF HOPE

    COLLEGE PARK, MD—Saying the money would help further researchers’ understanding of the awesome scientific phenomenon, representatives for the American Institute of Physics announced Tuesday that they had received a $10 million grant to melt stuff. “This funding will provide our researchers with the resources they need to put some junk over a really hot flame until it starts liquefying and gets all stretched out and stuff,” said AIP director James Griffith, adding that a portion of the grant would be allocated to making sure the flames were “real big” so that the research team could melt large items, such as desk chairs and lamps. “We already have a number of experiments lined up that will answer such questions as whether laboratory goggles or a digital thermometer melts first, and we’ve scheduled several trials to determine how fast we can melt a whole cafeteria tray. Pending our findings, my colleagues and I will then wait to see if all the melted stuff hardens up, at which point we intend to hold it over the flame and melt it again.” This research follows a $6 million study last year in which scientists were reportedly able to determine that dropping an electron microscope into a huge vat of acid is really fun.

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/scientists-receive-10-million-grant-to-melt-stuff,37476/

    Michael Maiello's picture

    Sony Produces a Hologram of FDR To Reassure America

    Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Senate, and of the House of Representatives:

    Monday, December 1st, 2014 -- a date which will live in internet – a Japan-based multimedia entertainment conglomerate doing business in the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by hackers from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

    danielfaris's picture

    America's Drug Trade: Harm in Unexpected Places

    If you’ve been paying even a small amount of attention to current events lately, you know that drugs have entered the national conversation in a big way. Marijuana legalization has become a rallying cry for many of us, though even the states where it’s already legal may have a complicated battle ahead of them to keep that privilege.

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Confidence, Rejection, and Criticism: Advice from Actors to Academics, Part Three

    Christmas week is especially hard for young academics trying to get a job, especially in literary studies. The annual rhythm of the job search means that most first-round interviews (the interviews that take place at major disciplinary conferences over the winter) get scheduled during the first half of December. By this time of year, grad students (and recent PhDs) looking for a job are counting the meager number of schools where their applications are still active; they may have applied to dozens of jobs and gotten one or two first-round interviews to show for it.
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    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Police, Danger, and the Social Contract

    I was blogging about the police tonight, and about the responses to protests of police brutality. Then I heard about the shooting of two police officers in New York City,  so the rest of that post (and some of the others I have been working on) will have to wait.

    NYC Cop Shootings: What We Won't Hear

    Two NYC cops, and their killer, joined an average of 82 Americans killed today, and every day, by guns. Brinsley apparently also shot his girlfriend before departing Baltimore for NYC. She survived. If you have seen some web comments you have probably seen the wingnuts of the right are out in force. In interviews on TV they are implying and/or blaming this tragic crime on, Obama, Al Sharpton, Democrat Mayor deBlasio, blacks in general, and of course 'liberals'.

    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Best o' Dag - Vote for your favorite blog post

    An Armed Society Is a Bloody Society by Doctor Cleveland - 2/18
    15% (2 votes)
    0% (0 votes)
    Ask Me About Shakespeare by Doctor Cleveland - 2/21
    0% (0 votes)
    Generation Wuss by Michael Maiello - 2/23
    0% (0 votes)
    Bad History Month by Richard Day - 2/26
    15% (2 votes)
    0% (0 votes)
    Freedom to Defend by Michael Maiello - 4/17
    0% (0 votes)
    31% (4 votes)
    0% (0 votes)
    When Society is Insane by Elusive Trope - 6/4
    8% (1 vote)
    The Valkyrie's Lament by Michael Wolraich - 6/23
    0% (0 votes)
    Personnel File by Barefooted - 7/2
    0% (0 votes)
    Religious Freedom vs. Religious Privlege by Doctor Cleveland - 7/3
    8% (1 vote)
    True Personhood by William K. Wolfrum - 7/7
    0% (0 votes)
    Footing the Bill for Assisted Suicide by Elusive Trope - 7/17
    0% (0 votes)
    0% (0 votes)
    8% (1 vote)
    8% (1 vote)
    Mort, George and Robin by Richard Day - 8/15
    0% (0 votes)
    0% (0 votes)
    8% (1 vote)
    0% (0 votes)
    0% (0 votes)
    Columbus Discovered America by Richard Day - 10/9
    0% (0 votes)
    0% (0 votes)
    Don't Sell. Buy! by Hal Ginsberg - 10/12
    0% (0 votes)
    0% (0 votes)
    0% (0 votes)
    0% (0 votes)
    0% (0 votes)
    Total votes: 13
    Ramona's picture

    It's Hard to Be Merry At Christmas When It's "Merry Christmas" Or Else

    The last time I wrote about Christmas I thought I was being pretty polite, considering the message I was getting from my friends and relatives and neighbors at the height of the War on Christmas.  To wit:  How DARE you even THINK about not wishing me a Merry Christmas!  Which, of course, led me to respond by pleading "not guilty"--which caused me to tell a lie at Christmas since I didn't feel the least bit guilty. Why would I?

    Michael Maiello's picture

    The Big Hollywood Crack Up

    Initially, when Sony announced it was yanking the premiere of the Seth Rogen/James Franco comedy The Interview I thought that Sony's marketing people had come up with a way to make lemonade out of the hacking situation.  The media giant could easily cut deals with Amazon, Netflix and the larger cable companies to stream the movie so great that North Korean leader Kim Jung-Un sent terrorists to stop you from seeing it.  

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