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Charles T.

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Everything posted by Charles T.

  1. I never intended this topic to be one for serious debate. Too late. I would definitely change my name if it were "Christian", but the others have become sufficiently "secularized" (along with almost all biblically-derived names) that virtually no one literally associates them with Christ or Christanity - an argument I don't think applies to Christmas, which is why I really would like to see the name changed eventually. If it were called Giftmas (or whatever), that would help the religious origins fade into the ash-heap of history. Addionally, then we wouldn't have to hear all those lame religious-themed Christmas-songs every year. Wouldn't it be worth it for that alone?
  2. I've read them all twice, and recommend them. All of the adventure, erudition, and wit make up for their failings, which include a tendency toward naturalism (the protagonists are not always perfect Heros, particularly in the area of romance, and some of the romantic sub-plots are unpleasant and non-Romantic). The series is essentially a "buddy-story", about the friendship of the two protagonists. The dialogue is excellent, the characterizations are strong. I also strongly recommend that if you decide to embark upon the entire series, purchase the companion book, "A Sea of Words". You will likely learn dozens of new ones, particularly of a nautical vein (for example, if you have the patience, you will learn the name for every sail and spar on sailing vessels of the era). I also found it helpful to have a field guide for birds and mammals handy (one of the protagonists is a scientist/naturalist/physician, in addition to being a spy). Enjoy. The movie was okay but I think it was more a tribute to the authenticity of the novels, which everybody loves so much, than it was an attempt to really create the characters on film and possibly begin a series.
  3. I got a dollar sign snowflake Giftmastree decoration from the ARI several years ago. You might check with them to see if they are still available.
  4. I agree. Either we gradually get rid of the taxes we have now until they are gone, or any new system we put in place MUST have a built-in gradual reduction and eventual elimination of itself. But I will never support any new system that is open-ended. That is just a short-term compromise which concedes the point that taxation is acceptable in principle.
  5. Please, try not to take this so seriously, Zoso. I have no intention of petitioning Congress to legislate changing the name of Christmas. All I asked was: if you could re-name the day, what would you call it? So far, I like Giftmas, though the New Year Holiday idea sounds good to me, too. Dump Christmas altogether and celebrate an actual event.
  6. What would you re-name Christmas, if you could? I'd sure like to see that name removed from the day, and "X-mas" doesn't quite cut it. Randmas, perhaps? How about Giftmas? I kind of like that one, but I'm not the most creative guy. Please, let's hear some other suggestions.
  7. Let's hope so. What exactly is a "McMansion"? Some sort of not-so-subtle attempt to combine the negative connotation of "big business" with being wealthy?
  8. Just to be clear, I'm under the impression that the story is fictional. I'm not saying you didn't know that, but it occured to me that it might not be clear to everyone who reads it. I suppose it could be true, but I don't think so.
  9. Edward Cline has the "Sparrowhawk" series, set during the Revolutionary period. I've only read the first ("Sparrowhawk, Book One: Jack Frake") and was impressed. I look forward to reading the rest.
  10. "Hombre", starring Paul Newman. Never have I seen a more consistently, explicitly selfish, egoistic character in film. An example: The hero is waiting patiently among a group of people to catch a sold-out stagecoach for which he has already purchased his ticket. In walks a husky, thuggish character (brilliantly portrayed by Richard Boone), who looks the group of people over. First he accosts Hombre, and begins to try and intimidate him into giving up his ticket. Before Hombre can respond, a friendly young man speaks up in his defense, trying to diffuse the situation. The thug shifts over to him, and applies the same tactics of intimidation. The young man protests, and looks around the room for support, but ultimately knuckles under to the implied threats of violence made by the thug, hands over his ticket, and leaves, humiliated. When the thug leaves the room, a woman who was present turns to Hombre and asks, "Why didn't you help him? He helped you. You should have done something," Hombre replies, "If it's alright with you, lady, I didn't feel like bleeding for him . . . and even if it isn't alright with you." This is just one example of many from the film. I can't recommend it highly enough. I've never seen another film with such poignant dialogue dealing so clearly, if implicitly, with the the theme of individualism/egoism vs. collectivism/altruism.
  11. I just received this from a religious acquaintance of mine who, I'm almost certain, is aware that I'm an atheist: ______________________________ "Atheist Professor "A college professor, an avowed Atheist, was teaching his class. He shocked several of his students when he flatly stated that there is no God, the expression, "One Nation Under God", was unconstitutional and further he was going to prove there is no God. "Addressing the ceiling he shouted: "God, if you are real, then I want you to knock me off this platform. I'll give you 15 minutes!" The lecture room fell silent. You could have heard a pin fall. Ten minutes went by. "Again he taunted God, saying, "Here I am, God. I'm still waiting." "His countdown got down to the last couple of minutes when a Marine just released from active duty and newly registered in the class walked up to the professor, hit him full force in the face, and knocked him flat from his lofty platform. The professor was out cold! "At first the students were shocked and babbled in confusion. The young Marine took a seat in the front row and sat silent. The class fell silent...waiting. Eventually, the professor came to. Shaken, he looked at the young Marine in the front row. When he regained his senses and could speak he yelled, "What's the matter with you? Why did you do that?" "God was busy. He sent me." "God Bless America!" _______________________________ This is essentially the kind of religious fanaticism with which our nation is at war, and this comes from a dainty little American Christian woman! The person who sent me this apparently condones the idea of punching out atheists who have the courage to voice their disagreement with religious dogma. Perhaps it's not to the point where she would *openly* advocate it, but it's to the point where a little story like this gets forwarded around on the internet among presumed "friends". This is a perfect example of the "religious right" that some people fear is growing in popularity in our country. I shudder at the thought. Could there come a day when I am threatened with or harmed by physical violence because I admit to being an atheist? What a disgusting thought. At this point in time, I am not especially worried about this "mind-set" pervading our society, but this IS, potentially, the "front edge" of such a trend. Time will tell. I sent an e-mail back to this person asking if she really approves of what that story portrays. If she were to tell me she does, and I could not persuade her otherwise, I would never speak to her again (until and unless I was convinced she had changed her mind), because that would mean she is *evil*. It would mean she condones the use of violence against someone who merely disagrees with her and who has not first threatened her with the use of force. It would mean she is no different, essentially, from the sub-humans who flew those planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon on 9/11/01, even if she is not someone who would personally initiate the violence. CT
  12. Only listened to the first movement so far, but the longer I listened, the more I liked it.
  13. Speaking of causing pain, I had to stop reading that because it hurt my head.
  14. If there are any Tom Clancy fans out there, I recommend his latest novel, "Teeth of the Tiger". It's about terrorists striking in America again and doing things I'm sort of (pleasantly) surprised they haven't done yet in reality, and the agents whose job it is to take the suckers out. Classic Clancy.
  15. Do you believe that Hussein had no WMD's prior to our invasion? (I infer that is what you believe from your statement, correct me if I'm wrong.)
  16. My favorite is MusicNow.com. No subscription is required, but you do need to use their free software. It's .99 per song. They use the WMA format. I also visit RealPlayer's music store from time to time. Again, using their free browser, it's .99 per song. They use the RealPlayer format. Both those services permit 10 CD burns per track, and you own the song once you buy it, so it stays on your computer permanently. Both have similar libraries, which are pretty good as far as I'm concerned. Avoid BuyMusic.com. I had a lot of problems with their files, and their customer service was horrible for me. I found eMusic's selection to be rather limited compared to the other services, but I'm sure it's grown since I last looked at it. I'm not familiar with Itunes or Napster, since I've gotten everything I've wanted from the others without having to pay a subscription fee. For audiobooks, I subscribe to Audible.com, and I recommend that service, too.
  17. Are you familiar with Audible.com? I'm not sure exactly what you mean by "of interest to O'ists". They have Atlas and Fountainhead, and a couple of other non-fiction books written by O'ists, but it is definitely not an "O'ist" site.
  18. Read this interview to see Parker and Stone revealed in their essence (such as it is). Confused boys, riddled with contradictions, who just want everyone to get along. Kind of sad to read, and kind of annoying, too. They are typical of people who lack explicit, objective understanding of their own ideas (or any ideas). They struggle to defend some good ideas, but don't know how to do it, and in the process they end up undermining those very things they want to assert as good. Parker/Stone interview
  19. I want to recommend my favorite book on the subject of pseudo-science and such: The Demon-Haunted World, by Carl Sagan. Also, James Randi has a website on which he posts a weekly "newsletter", full of examples of various cons and hoaxes, and his ongoing efforts to expose them for what they are. It's at: http://www.randi.org/
  20. I wanted my money back. There's one simple question that I think will tell you whether or not you should see this film: if you liked the television program "The X-Files", you might enjoy this movie, as it is simply an overlong episode of that show.
  21. Congratulations, Brian. I hope you make millions. CT
  22. You're right about the change in Kerry's verbal tactics, they have become very "Clintonian". James Taranto of the Wall Street Opinion Journal very observantly compiled this list of quotes by Kerry from the debate, and it lays bare the essence of Kerry's approach to "expressing" his beliefs: say what you think everyone wants to hear, then simply contradict it with a qualifying remark tacked on at the end. It's blatantly dishonest, yet at the same time it's almost subtle, at least for anyone who doesn't pay close enough attention. ___________________________________ By JAMES TARANTO Bush and 'But'-Head John Kerry made some strong and sensible statements during the debate last night, but did you notice what the next word usually was? Here are some Kerry quotes: "I'll never give a veto to any country over our security. But . . ." "I believe in being strong and resolute and determined. And I will hunt down and kill the terrorists, wherever they are. But . . ." "We have to be steadfast and resolved, and I am. And I will succeed for those troops, now that we're there. We have to succeed. We can't leave a failed Iraq. But . . ." "I believe that we have to win this. The president and I have always agreed on that. And from the beginning, I did vote to give the authority, because I thought Saddam Hussein was a threat, and I did accept that intelligence. But . . ." "I have nothing but respect for the British, Tony Blair, and for what they've been willing to do. But . . ." "What I want to do is change the dynamics on the ground. And you have to do that by beginning to not back off of the Fallujahs and other places, and send the wrong message to the terrorists. You have to close the borders. You've got to show you're serious in that regard. But . . ." "I couldn't agree more that the Iraqis want to be free and that they could be free. But . . ." "No president, through all of American history, has ever ceded, and nor would I, the right to pre-empt in any way necessary to protect the United States of America. But . . ." "I've never wavered in my life. I know exactly what we need to do in Iraq, and my position has been consistent: Saddam Hussein is a threat. He needed to be disarmed. We needed to go to the U.N. The president needed the authority to use force in order to be able to get him to do something, because he never did it without the threat of force. But . . ." Maybe Kerry misunderstood when someone told him he needed to have the "qualifications" to be president. But it'd inspire a lot more confidence if he had followed any of these remarks with a "therefore" clause instead of a "but" one.
  23. That would be consistent with Rand's observation that "faith=force". Actually, it did, essentially. Not violence towards others, perhaps, but towards yourself. If you accept something on faith, you are essentially committing violence to your own mind, by disregarding a proper rational thought process, and cramming the idea down your own throat, unquestioned, untested, unproved. Such a "disconnect" between your reasoning mind and reality is precisely what any initiator of violence/force is hoping to achieve in his victim, and that's what any religious zealot is trying to accomplish in the mind of anyone he tries to indoctrinate. "Don't be reasonable, just do/believe as I say!"
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