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AvatarComments by JS in reply to Blake*

On “The Hedgehog Who Won

So by your logic, they would trade in being an autonomous region of Denmark to be protectorate under the US, without federal representation, because their largest political party supports independence?

That only makes logical sense if you believe that being a literal, second-rate US citizen with no federal representation at all -- not even a full state -- is somehow superior to both being a fully autonomous state under Denmark, or being fully independent.

Or, I suppose, you might believe the people living in Greenland are absolute blithering morons. That would also work.

"Greenland would love to become a US protectorate, not even a state, because it's primary political party wants to be fully independent" is hilariously bad.

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"Greenlanders will vote to join the US."

Why would they do that? Are we going to make them vote? Or do you think there's some large contingent of Greenlanders that are just dying to throw off the yoke of self-rule (they are an autonomous region, and not some Denmark subsidiary) and submit to, from their perspective, a very far-right country alien to their values and culture?

Do you think Greenland's people are yearning to be Americans? Or that America is so great that independent country is eager to toss aside it's own culture and self-rule to submit to it?

"

Pity the very stable geniuses who came up with the idea didn't bother checking the actual relationship of Denmark or Greenland.

Assuming they got past the absurdity of thinking you can buy and sell whole countries to other countries, they'd have quickly found Denmark couldn't have sold Greenland and all it's citizens to another country, even if they were crazy enough to want to.

"

They don't restrict themselves to Jews. I mean they try so hard to make blacks understand that the GOP is the "Party of Lincoln and Civil Rights", and that Democrats are the real racists.

Strangely, it appears 90% of black Americans simply won't believe it. Liberal indoctrination in schools, no doubt.

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"Right now, the left/Dems are the party that wants to destroy everything I think makes this country work: freedom of speech, due process, good governance, rule of law not man, intellectual freedom, and so on."

Weird, I thought you were talking about the American Democrats. I guess we're discussing some other country?

On “Churches In the Hands of an Angry God

As I understand it, Christian Churches in America are struggling to fill pews. Speaking on the Protestant side about 20 or 30 years ago as the mega-churches rose, it was those mainline churches that struggled -- it wasn't that only mainline churches were facing the issues of declining memberships and, especially, declining youth memberships -- but mega-churches were cannibalizing the smaller churches.

So even as the overall percentage of religious fell a bit, the mega-churches -- almost exclusively evangelical and fundamentalist) -- saw rabid growth. And as I recall, were not at all shy about explaining that it was their very evangelical and fundamentalist doctrine that saw them growing, "bucking" the trend.

Unfortunately, as they tapped out the mainline protestant churches for parishioners, the mega-churches are now seeing the same problem. Attendance drop-offs, members disappearing, and heavy struggles to attract younger parishioners.So far, they've mostly blamed variations of secular society -- acceptance of gays, video games, public education, etc -- for their problems, and I do worry that they'll become increasingly strident and potentially dangerous if the trend does not reverse.

As for Catholics, lacking -- as best I can tell, not being a Catholic -- the whole 'mega church' phenomenon and the semi-revival it caused -- has simply seen and been dealing with the drop in attendance. Which is at least not new to them, as I understand that they've struggled with this problem in Europe, for instance, for quite some time.

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" Preachers were probably asking their congregations for lots of money for centuries"

Yeah, the ones that enriched themselves with it were, generally, tossed out or shunned.

Now? Now it's a career. There's an entire theology built on it -- the mere existence of prosperity doctrine is so heretical that it, and it's adherents, should literally be shunned from any Church that calls itself Christian. And to their credit, many do.

But not those big ones. Not the ones on TV, with the preachers in their million-dollar homes and private jets, telling their parishioners to just give a little more, and ignore that every year they buy a new Mercedes.

Christianity is dying in America, and there are two reasons why -- first their entanglement in politics and second the fact that very prominent, very visible Christian leaders get away with openly enriching themselves and not God, year after year, decade after decade.

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"The PTL Club, 700 Club, and many other early televangelists put an emphasis on defending Israel and rejecting sinful Marxist hippie culture."

And raising money. American Christianity died when Oral Roberts demanded money or God Would Call him home, and Christians sent it to him.

What you see now is just a zombie, propelled by bad actors as it lurches across the landscape, as it slowly rots.

On “Breaking Bad: Picard

"Anyone writing real-time high-reliability high-availability code for something complex (eg, a star ship) is going to know all about writing defensive code"

That's the funniest thing I've read all day. Seriously, either they'll have an AI doing it or it'll end up exactly like Fire From the Deep, where there's an actual job called "software archaeologist" wherein you dig into the millennia of libraries on top of libraries trying to find where someone cobbled together a hack on top of a hack to get something you can hack around with to do the job.

And of course if you dig back far enough, you'll find the time function still thinks 1/170 was the beginning of time, so god help you if you time travel.

On “Churches In the Hands of an Angry God

"In fairness to the author, the use of “Christian” when what is really meant is “White American Evangelical Protestant” is a Big Lie that we have been hearing for about forty years now."

White American Evangelical Protestantism is quite visible for two reasons. First, evangelicalism as a whole needs to be visible and public -- so as to bring the Word of God -- but mostly because they made a devil's bargain with the GOP. I mean it all dates back to the moral majority and the rise of the religious right, and frankly the death knell was the first televangelist, but they're the ones playing highly visible, high-stakes politics these days.

It's hard not to see them as the face of Christianity -- even to those of us who know better! -- when they seek out the cameras, proclaim themselves the true face of Christianity, and wed themselves to high visibility politics -- and their counterparts by and large do not, rendering them quite invisible.

And I cannot blame the mode moderate churches for not interjecting themselves into politics. If nothing else, WAEP have clearly shown the downsides of it.

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Eh, even our own local and highly moderate Methodist Church has a pretty rock-and-roll youth ministry. It's not new -- trying to connect "to the kids" has always resulted in programs that try to tie into what's popular, and that's not even getting into the mammoth money making business of Christian Rock.

I suspect that the fact that such programs have become more fervent is simply due to the place Christianity, in America, finds itself. They're having a harder and harder time filling pews, as it were, and inability to attract younger members is a huge problem.

It was something the more evangelical Churches are just now really seeing. Their rapid growth was in large part due to cannibalism from other Churches, which obscured the basic issue until that particular well ran dry.

The reasons for declining membership are pretty diverse. I would say it likely started with televangelists, but the increasingly tight relationship between the most vocal and visible Christian churches -- sadly the fundamentalist and evangelical ones -- with the Republican Party has not helped. Much of the more visible GOP agenda is not particularly "youth friendly" -- as noted above -- and that taints those elements of Christianity that associate tightly with it.

The separation of Church and State is there as much to protect the Church as the State, because when they mingle -- when one endorses the other, they share the sins of each.

As someone raised in a quite moderate form of Protestantism, I am quite aware that the Religious Right is not the same as "All Christians" -- they certainly do not speak for me, or anyone at any Church I have ever been a member of -- but that doesn't change the fact that those self-same people do claim to speak for all Christians, however falsely, and the sizes of their congregations, the money they bring to bear, and the fact that they are so very active and visible in politics sure makes them seem like it.

On “Epstein Dead

"Well, there WAS a conspiracy where Epstein, Maxwell, and others (allegedly) engaged in sex with underage girls."

That's not the global conspiracy of pedophiles I was promised. That's like...two guys and a bunch of blind eyes.

Seriously, reality is boring and crime is banal. And the very lack of a global conspiracy of pedophiles will be proof of the power of the global conspiracy of pedophiles, because "Epstein liked them 15 and he knew a few guys that couldn't wait for the 'barely' part of 'barely legal'" is just impossible.

Like pedophilia is somehow some weird side-effect of being rich. Why should there be any more pedophiles, as a percentage, among the very wealthy than any other demographic?

I mean I get why organizations like the Boy Scouts or the Catholic Church or professions like education or sports can be attractive to pedophiles, but it's a lot easier to get involved in scouting than it is to become a billionaire.

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"Which keeps me thinking that there really isn’t a lot of motive in killing Epstein, since there are so many Keepers Of Secrets besides him."

Well, if we want to go Grand Conspiracy, killing Epstein was the worst thing they could do. After all, if there was a Grand Pedophile Conspiracy, surely Epstein would have dead man switches. "In the event of my untimely death, please open this sealed container and disseminate the contents to the media" is not a hard directive for a lawyer to follow.

And of course the Grand Blackmail Conspiracy theory is true (which is the most common one I hear), then he'd have to have physical evidence. His testimony wouldn't be enough alone about anything other than to tar some reputations.

Killing him just risks that being released, either via a dead man's switch or via the continuing FBI raids.

Again, it seems the most simple explanation was a man who lost everything wanted to kill himself killed himself, but that's not Hollywood enough apparently. Grand Murderous Conspiracies to cover the Grand Pedophilia Conspiracy.

I suspect what we'll find out is that Epstein knew a handful of people that liked them too young, more that liked them barely legal -- but still legal -- and even more that weren't really into paid sex. And happily entertained them all for continuing access to money. He did learn his trade at the hands of one of the better known Ponzi artists, and so cut his teeth learning how idiotic rich people can be with money to someone they "trust".

Of course finding out there were only a handful of pedophiles, and the vast bulk of people he hung out with never did anything wrong, will just make the Grand Pedophile Conspiracy more entrenched.

As I said -- very Satanic Panic.The depraved elites indulging in vile sins is a very, very old conspiracy -- at least this one hasn't dipped into blood libel yet. Orgies, pedophilia, cannibalism, satanic rituals -- the details vary, the specifics of the "elites" vary, but same song, same dance.

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"Well, there’s also the thing where Epstein’s whole life for the last couple of decades was central to a different grand conspiracy that involved powerful elites and sex and all sorts of embarrassing things."

Ah yes, the other unproven conspiracy. This is getting more Satanic Cults by the second. Epstein was a pedophile. He was rich and powerful. He hung out with rich and powerful people. Ergo, by the transitive property, they were all pedophiles.

You're using one conspiracy to "prove" another.

Even if he was running a pedophile ring rather than reserving them for himself -- and I note this is basically Pizzagate 2.0 at the moment, although improved in that we have at least one actual pedophile involved -- there is, of yet, no evidence who was involved, much less evidence that those involved were sufficiently powerful or criminally connected to have pulled this off.

Again, your predilection for conspiratorial thinking is on display.

There's simply far too much unknown, and yet you toss Occam's Razor in favor of lurid speculation.

As I said, you clearly prefer a conspiracy, facts be damned. perhaps you'll be right, but if so it'll be entirely by accident.

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Indeed. Had this been, say, a career criminal with many enemies who were also career criminals, and he was shivved to death in a 'random' fight in prison? Goodness, that could very will be a prison hit carried out on someone else's behalf.

Because it turns out that people with heavy connections with drugs, gangs, and crime tend to have heavy connections within prisons, and if they want someone dead it's just a matter of finding someone willing to take the risk and the extra time.

Now Mister Billionaire? Arranging a fake suicide? Goodness. I think he'd need at least a dozen people. Cut-outs, bribe-able guards, a hitman straight out of a movie -- faking a suicide isn't exactly easy. I mean if he fell on his knife a dozen times, different story. Probably need to bribe a few people in the ME's office -- make sure the right ME did the autopsy.

You'd need to bribe other people to hide camera footage of hallways to hide guards moving around. You'd probably, at this stage, need Barr or high-level DoJ folks to be covering your ass for you -- so more bribes or more conspirators.

And then hope to god the corrupt guards you hired don't roll pretty much instantly. Which, historically, they kinda do.

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"It has nothing to do with what I *WANT*."

I've read your comments. You went 100% conspiracy while his body was still cooling, and have persisted.

People have pointed out that, indeed, people commit suicides in jail, that lazy and incompetent guards are in fact the norms in American prisons, and hanging does tend to break neck bones in older people.

Does that mean it wasn't murder? Of course not. But it doesn't make it murder either, and the simplest explanation remains "Guy at risk for suicide commits it".

You are spinning a bunch of common facts of prison life into a grand conspiracy based solely on...common facts of prison life and a displeasure that Epstein is dead.

You very, very clearly have had a preferred outcome since day one, as anyone wandering back through your comments on this very thread can easily see.

In the end, you might very well be right. That doesn't mean your thought process wasn't heavily biased by your own preferences.

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We might see a tape of several hours of quiet hallway, showing no one leaving or entering Epstein's cell. Which will be instantly twisted as either a 'faked tape' -- because they've have released it instantly if it was so boring -- or more likely, make people even more certain there's a tape of his cell that's being 'suppressed'.

Any evidence against a conspiracy is just further proof of how powerful the conspiracy is.

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Well, we know Jaybird really wants it to be murder.

I mean his preference is really clear to the point of fixation.

I've relatives that have worked in the prison industry. No matter how famous or modern or critical the jail or prison is, at best you're talking underpaid, overworked guards who don't really care beyond whatever minimum gets their paycheck.

Sleep on the job? Absolutely. Falsify logs to avoid work? Absolutely. You're lucky if they're not running contraband for inmates, honestly.

It's like some weird CSI-effect, but for prisons. it's weird how this belief that only conspiracy could result in a jail run by lazy, overworked guards doing as little as possible arose so quickly.

If you'd asked me six months ago, I'd have said that'd be the default assumption of any American, that the guards were lazy and poorly trained as a best case.

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Cameras, you say?

Yes. Federal rules on cameras means there wouldn't have been one in his cell, or looking into his cell. Hallways, monitoring cell doors, or common areas? Much more likely.

The conspiracies about the supposed cameras are just as amusing as the ones about suicide watches. The "mystery" of why he was removed from suicide watch, for instance, is easily solved by recognizing that people rarely remain on suicide watch for more than a few days -- and Epstein's own lawyers requested he be removed.

Same with the cameras. Few if any federal jails allow cameras into cells -- anyplace prisoners might undress is subject to considerably more stringent rules about monitoring. Most cover, as I noted, common areas and hallways.

Likely to sufficient to show if, say, a guard was actually doing his rounds or perhaps if someone wandered into Epstein's cell, but not to show the suicide itself.

And of course the lack of such footage is just "proof" that the truth is being "hidden". Reality being, of course, that no cells are monitored like that are lost in the mad stampede to conspiracy.

Even some people here seem quite enthusiastic about embracing conspiracy. I'm worried someone might show up with an assault rifle and try to find the basement at this rate.

Because after all, the fact that it was legitimately suicide seems to have been ruled out before the first fact was released.

Because it wasn't Hollywood enough, I suppose. We're only in the first act, clearly he didn't really kill himself.

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Hyoid, right? It's certainly a sign to investigate further, but he was older and thus the bone much more fragile. It would depend on a number of factors, specifically how he hung himself, what sort of noose he used, etc.

As I noted above, prison hits happen. A prison hit on Epstein would have involved another prisoner and a shiv. Or at the very least a shiv and a prisoner to be blamed.

Fake suicide, that's a lot tougher to pull off to begin with. Much more so in a prison, in the prisoners cell, where cameras track movement in the hallways and cover the doors.

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I suspect had Epstein managed house arrest, his first attempt would have been his last, rather than having to go through the effort to get himself off suicide watch and try again.

It's clearly not sexy enough an answer for quite a few people. The way some are drooling in their enthusiasm for a vast, evil conspiracy is quite disconcerting. I didn't reference the Satanic Ritual panics for no reason.

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You think there's a specialized shady character that arranges prison hits, and is also known to Mister Big?

I mean don't get me wrong, prison hits happen. It happens by paying one prisoner to shiv the target prisoner. Simple, straightforward, obviously murder, and generally involves criminals finding other criminals to kill for them -- gang and drug related. Not some cat-stroking faceless elite.

Here's a thought: A guy with plenty of reason to kill himself gets himself off suicide watch -- by lying to the prison therapists and by having his lawyers advance the correct legal arguments -- and then kills himself while has has the chance. An under-staffed prison doesn't notice for hours.

A perfectly acceptable explanation of the facts as we know them now, that doesn't involve shadowy conspiracies and TV-ready faceless assassins. If the facts change, we can reassess.

But right now, the "Epstein was MURDERED" crowd reminds me heavily of a cross between Pizzagate and a Satantic Ritual Panic. Hysterical conspiracy mongering and baseless speculation passed off as 'fact' or 'obvious truth'.

On “Endorsed: Other Options

Hmm. Billboard with gun sights hovering over freshman Democrats: Constitutional protected speech "What's not okay about it?"

Tweet listing donors taken directly from FEC filings: "What a piece of shit. We can't in any way condone this vile shit".

Interesting pair of statements you made 6 minutes apart.

I'm confused as to where the line between "Oh that's okay" and "this is vile shit" is. Would it have been okay if Castro had just placed targets on those donors? Is it the gun imagery that moves it from "vile shit" to "okay"? I would have thought gun imagery is more likely to "incite a mob of thugs", as you put it, but as I don't own a gun perhaps they have a calming, soothing effect I'm unaware of.

On “The Answer, My Friend, is Blowin’ in the Wind? Perhaps.

"As for how we view mass murders, they are a very unfortunate byproduct of a culture where more and more men are lonely and filled with an impotent rage. "

That sounds a lot like an incel line. I must have misunderstood your general thrust there.

"

No. I'm assuming "gun owners" are a sizable enough group to get pertinent legislation to the floor somewhere, even if it's voted down.

They certainly have one of the most well known lobbyist groups.

If they wanted to. I'm not sure that's the case. It seems gun owners either don't have any solutions or don't want any, because as I noted -- it's all platitudes. Words without even token deeds.

Take the one specific you've mentioned -- regulations about felons with firearms. Can you tell me how they're not enforced? What problems are there with enforcement? What's preventing an actual, existing regulation from having the teeth to work?

Is it lack of money? Is it a conspiracy? Is it lack of infrastructure? Loopholes? Is it merely impossible to keep guns out of felons hands -- although if that's the case, then 'enforcing regulations' wouldn't do any good would it, so it'd be an odd suggestion as a real action.

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