Late Afternoon Links

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Crunching on an article today, but I saved these open browser tabs just for you…

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79 Responses to “Late Afternoon Links”

  1. #1 |  Marty | 

    they already cancelled my humanity card because I didn’t fill out the proper paperwork in time…

    the grilled cheeseburger needs bacon!

  2. #2 |  John Jenkins | 

    An agnostic who says “we don’t know” is probably being honest. One who says “we can’t know” is self-refuting (i.e., you’re stating a property of something with certainty and you deny that you can know properties of things with certainty). Posing the ultimate who cares question is nice too: If you’re truly a radical skeptic, then you can’t even say that there IS something, so the question why there is something rather than nothing is meaningless.

    Atheism is a rational position because it’s the null hypothesis. Any empiricist (and therefore atheist) would be willing to change his position based on available evidence. The problem being, there is no evidence for the existence of any god, except for occasional begging the question (e.g., the who cares).

    Science doesn’t answer grand thematic questions. It incrementally pushes back the veil of darkness that surrounds our existence. If we were all radical skeptics, we couldn’t even do that simple (but profound) thing.

  3. #3 |  JS | 

    to hell with the state. seriously. the only way for Americans to get their freedom back is if the government falls

  4. #4 |  Aresen | 

    New York lawmakers want to ban homeowners from renting out rooms to travelers.

    Apartment stays are my favorite way to travel: Way more convienent than Hotels, cheaper plus you usually have a washing machine (a godsend if you are travelling for more than a week.)

    This law is a stupid piece of government enforced regulation, designed to strangle competition.

  5. #5 |  Warren | 

    If I cannot get that burger-melt deep fried with bacon and a side of extra-fat chipolte ranch sauce then the terrorists have won.

    And by terrorists I mean the TSA.

    I was going to rent out the rest of the space in this post, but I’ll not risk it now. Thanks New Yawk!

  6. #6 |  Aresen | 

    On the Cuban sanctions:

    While it is debatable how effective the sanctions are, given that the rest of the world ignores the US on this, they probably do decrease the standard of living of the ordinary Cuban people.

    The Communist Party nomenklatura, of course, suffers no deprivation whatsoever, but find the sanctions a convenient scapegoat for the failures of the regime.

  7. #7 |  Cyto | 

    Thanks Radley! There’s a Perkins just around the corner from my office. I’ve never had an excuse to try them out, but that did the trick. I’ll probably go with the steak-n-shroom supermelt over the grilled-cheese burger. That’s right up there with the kfc double-down chicken sandwich.

  8. #8 |  Aresen | 

    #7 Cyto

    I accidentally hit the downtick instead of the uptick. Please add +2 to your karma.


  9. #9 |  Marcus | 

    The claims about what atheists believe are not true. I find that when someone says “atheists believe”, that which follows is not true. Atheists simply do not believe in any of the 3000 plus gods that have been theorized and followed to date.

    If you do not believe in any of these gods, you too are an atheist.

  10. #10 |  Matt | 

    I don’t get it. What does it have to do with being left handed?

  11. #11 |  Darth Fabulous | 

    About Cuba, the author has a point. THe military runs all the hotels and beaches. So tourism just puts more money in their pockets. In the meantime, we would still have trade sanctions, which would still hurt the common person. So ending the travel ban but keeping sanctions would be the worst possible situation. Either have neither or both. Preferably neither.

  12. #12 |  Ira | 

    that burger is a pussy

    Twice as big as the Coronary Bypass! Topped with
    two fried eggs, six slices of American cheese, and
    eight slices of bacon, all served between the two
    grilled cheese sandwiches that we use in place of
    the regular hamburger buns.

  13. #13 |  Bill | 

    Radley – as a long time reader, this is the first time I think I’ve ever disagreed with you. I read Nick’s article earlier and think there’s a lot of merit to his points about the sanctions. They’ve been very ineffective at best. Where I disagree (and to that end, I’ll concede I’m probably missing something b/c when I’ve disagreed with you before, I pretty much always end up changing my mind – so I’m honestly asking more than anything) is that it’s such a clear cut issue. The govt there has existed pretty much exclusively b/c of hte cult of Fidel. It’s hypothetical of course, but had Fidel died 10 years ago, I really doubt Raul would be in power now and I don’t think he’d have been able to hold it together for more than maybe a year or so at best). They’ve been a catastrophe for years and are getting worse and worse. We do a ton of trade with Cuba although a lot of people don’t realize it, so we send over a tremendous amount of humanitarian aid but like everything in Cuba – Castro siphens it off and rewards his cronies. He’s received a lot of support from Chavez but that has been diminishing b/c of Chavez’ on financial woes. I know all of that isn’t on the record but for many reasons I think it’s safe to say that support well is running dry.

    There’s a lot to be sickened by with the cuban government but one of the more horrific things is the child sex tourism (there’s sex tourism as well and the voluntary nature of prostitution is complicated when there’s that much poverty but I have no problem with adult prostitution). There are a lot of Canadians and Europeans that partake even though many countries forbid their citizens from engaging in child prostitution. Anyway, the travel ban specifically seems like the one part of the embargo that isn’t so clear cut. A lot of humanitarian aid is siphoned off specifically to be used for tourists – milk for instance that’s supposed to go to needy children is taken and used to make ice cream among other things for tourists. Cuban citizens aren’t allowed to partake in just about anything decent that results from the tourism.

    So in a nutshell – I think it’s a fair argument to say that once Fidel finally passes away, Raul is very likely to worry about covering his own butt and the regime will come to an end (at least the regime near any form that it is now). The money from travel doesn’t trickle down to the ‘people’ b/c virtually every bit of it is taken for the party and sympathizers (yes, they too are the people but they aren’t the ones suffering like everyone else is). More access will lead to more medical tourism which comes at the expense of the Cuban citizenry (Michael Moore did a pretty good job of proving that although he’d argue the contrary). There’d certainly be more *child* sex tourism. While Fidel is alive there’s no way he’s going to let anything liberalize that’ll help the people – he’ll keep them just as oppressed and keep every bit of the wealth he can for party members.

    In the end, I read Nick’s argument and think he’s got many valid points. I agree with your assertion that the sanctions haven’t worked anywhere near how they were advertised. Where I disagree is that I don’t see it is a clear cut case. Having lived in Miami most of my life and talked to countless people that suffered under Castro, there was near unanimity in support for the sanctions and this included a lot of folks that had just arrived. The reasoning I heard consistently was that even though there was some small trickling down benefits, the regime benefitted so disproportionately from anything coming in there that the relative position of the people (ergo the chances they’ll be able to topple things internally) was weakened which more than offset any benefit. As long as they had enough cash to keep themselves alive – they were content to just let the slaves keep starving.

    In the end, I’m not saying you or Nick are wrong, I just can’t seem to see how it’s such a clear cut issue and why it’s such a ridiculous Op-Ed. It’s entirely reasonable to assume that if there were no embargo, Castro would be in a much better shape – on that was in good enough shape to survive transition after transition and that the people would be every bit as bad off if not worse. Since the true effects of no embargo can’t be known with certainty it’s hypothetical – but that’s the case on both sides. I’ll concede I’m probably just missing something obvious b/c you’re never one to make arguments you haven’t thought through and you’d never side with the bad guys but in this case, I cant’ see why its’ so ridiculous. (I know, I just wrote a book so I’ll cut it short here – but if you don’t mind, would you just reply a little on why you think it’s so ridiculous if you have any free time).

  14. #14 |  Bill | 

    Crap – I just realized how long that was and that I was really redundant – my apologies in advance – didnt’ mean to spam the comments.

  15. #15 |  Mike Leatherwood | 

    “Castro’s regime was holding at least 205 political prisoners at the end of that year, and as many as 5,000 citizens served sentences without ever being charged with a specific crime”

    Silly Castro! Just call them “enemy combatants” and the U.S. would be OK with it! Hell, we could even let them borrow space on the same island.

  16. #16 |  Les | 

    THe military runs all the hotels and beaches. So tourism just puts more money in their pockets.

    The military doesn’t run all the restaurants and other shops that tourists would patronize. And it doesn’t run the homes of family members who will host many visitors. And, needless to say, it should be up to individuals, and not the state, where they spend their vacation dollars.

  17. #17 |  Brad Warbiany | 

    New York lawmakers want to ban homeowners from renting out rooms to travelers. God forbid we have any voluntary exchange of goods and services go on without the watchful eye of government knowing about taxing it.

    There, fixed that for you.

  18. #18 |  Les | 

    Bill, for me, it’s “clear cut” because, like I said, individuals in a free society should be free to travel wherever they want. If I want to go to China, with a government that oppresses many more people than Cuba’s, that is my right that shouldn’t be taken away from the state.

  19. #19 |  Aresen | 


    Your argument is confusing:

    At one point you say “They’ve been very ineffective at best.” (3rd line), then you go on to argue “It’s entirely reasonable to assume that if there were no embargo, Castro would be in a much better shape…”(last paragraph). I would agree that the embargo has been ineffective, but my suspicion is that the Cuban economy would still be a shambles, due to the ineptitude and corruption of the Communist Party. The difference is that the Castro regime would not be able to blame the embargo for the mess.

    The one undeniable effect of the embargo has been to reduce contact between Americans and Cubans, which allows the Castro regime to demonize a faceless foreign power. Everyday contact between Cubans and Americans would do more to undermine the regime than anything else I can think of.

  20. #20 |  Price | 

    At least the agnostic is willing to consider the possibilities. Neither the religious zealot or the atheist is open minded enough to look. Perhaps the agnostic will find his/her answer quicker.

  21. #21 |  Peter | 

    I just called my NYS senator to complain about the proposed law, and it had already passed. I don’t get it.

  22. #22 |  Zargon | 

    The claims about what atheists believe are not true. I find that when someone says “atheists believe”, that which follows is not true. Atheists simply do not believe in any of the 3000 plus gods that have been theorized and followed to date.

    The problem is that everybody has their own definition of the words “atheist” and “agnostic”, and then proceeds to talk past one another.

    I don’t believe there’s a God the same way I don’t believe there’s a pink teacup orbiting Alpha Centauri. Under the definitions of the writer of the article, I’m an Agnostic, under your definition I’m an Atheist. I don’t worry about it, because ultimately, I don’t consider it an interesting question in the first place.

  23. #23 |  John Jenkins | 

    @Price: The agnostic isn’t “considering the possibilities.” He is denying that he can know which of the possibilities is true. The empiricist considers all possibilities and goes with the highest probability (i.e., Bayesian reasoning), which, in the absence of evidence, is the null hypothesis.

  24. #24 |  Alex | 

    The Agnosticism article is an absolute disaster. An “agnostic” is “without knowledge”. An atheist is one who doesn’t claim, “there is a god”. They don’t contradict each other – you can be an agnostic atheist. Radley probably is one. I doubt there’s a single “New Atheist” who claims “science will certainly answer all the questions about the origin of the universe someday”, and even if there were that would have *nothing* to do with atheism. I’m an asantaclausist, and I’m an atheist. Neither position is anything more than an “I don’t have any reason to believe x”

  25. #25 |  johnl | 

    Radley it’s wrong to assume that the insults were random trolls instead of retaliation from unionized misogynists from the TSA. Peggy thinks it’s trolls but she also thinks that writing her Senator is going to accomplish something. Her story was getting traction and she was shouted into taking it down.

    I am glad I read the original article and I’ll be sure to get into long discussions over procedures and demand to talk to managers the next time a TSA goon makes some bizarre request I should do something with my leg that would make a disgusting mess.

  26. #26 |  bob42 | 

    The slate article constructs a broad-brush strawman definition of atheists, “I believe it’s important to define a distinct identity for agnosticism, to hold it apart from the certitudes of both theism and atheism.”

    That’s fine with me, but I’m not sure that all agnostics would agree with Rosenbaum’s preferred definition, and I am certain that applying the term “certitude” to atheism in the same context of theism is inaccurate at best.

    Theists have unshakable certainty (faith) that their beliefs are accurate. Atheists are only certain that theists can not back up their beliefs with evidence.

    When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity.

    When many people suffer from a delusion, it is called a Religion.

    –Zen and the Art of Motocycle Maintenance

    And when a significant portion of a political party suffers from a religious authoritarian delusion, it’s called The Republican Party of Texas.

  27. #27 |  Jeff | 

    The agnostic article is a fairly common piece of false equivalence and bad semantics. The atheist position isn’t “there absolutely cannot ever be a God or god-like beings” but “there absolutely is no evidence of a God or god-like beings and therefore everyone should assume there are none”

    Ridiculous gets said about Atheists like

    And some of them can behave as intolerantly to heretics who deviate from their unproven orthodoxy as the most unbending religious Inquisitor.

    . Which is ridiculous. What is the atheist “orthodoxy”? There is no big holy book of atheism, or an atheist positions of authority. The entire article is a mishmash of bad cliches, and doesn’t seem to be based on anything beyond the dictionary definitions of a few words.

  28. #28 |  Elliot | 

    Despite the common misconception, Richard Dawkins and other atheists do not have an absolute, 100% disbelief. In The God Delusion, Dawkins has a scale from absolute belief to absolute disbelief, with agnostics in the middle. He puts himself close to, but not actually at, 100% disbelief. The common analogies are comparing a rational consideration of the possibility of a deity to the rational consideration of the existence of a teapot in orbit between Mars and Earth, or the existence of fairies in the bottom of the garden. Strictly speaking, I can’t rule out the teapot or the fairies, because tomorrow someone could actually provide proof. But I feel quite safe in disregarding such a “possibility” as too trivial to concern myself, like an infinite number of other similarly trivial “possibilities”.

    That’s not agnosticism, either.

    I identified as an agnostic for about 15 years. I considered atheists to be smug and often hostile to good people of faith. But I realize now that what tethered me to the theist side of the fence was residual Christian fear and guilt, as well as a kind of desperate hope that there was some kind of higher power. I even described myself as an agnostic leaning towards Deism.

    I cut the tether when I read someone point out how cruel it is to convince a child that their beloved grandfather would be burning forever in fire because he wasn’t baptized. All of the seemingly “well-meaning” traditional religions are poisoned with such hideous fundamental ideas, because it is necessary to inculcate people with fear and/or hate in order to keep them from “straying”, i.e., using their rational mind and dismissing religious tales as ridiculous fantasy–not to mention identifying the truly horrible aspects and applications. Leaders can only control the minds of religious followers so long as they use such despicable ploys. Even the Eastern and New Age religions are often poisoned with a worship of death over life. (Without such poison, they’re just silly fluff, mere fads.)

    So, once I freed myself of that irrational anchor, I decided that, while I can respect people of faith who treat others respectfully and appreciate how much their beliefs mean to them, I should never again respect their actual beliefs. I don’t include the non-supernatural, rational beliefs like the “Golden Rule” and don’t commit murder. But I give no special exceptions for brises, religious education, slave garb for women, etc.. No, it’s not for me to decide how other people raise their children or treat their wives, but I also don’t have any reason to overlook cruelty and deception just because it falls inside some conceptual fence of “faith” (a wholly unvirtuous human quality).

    I regret wasting my time on the agnostic fence and I would highly recommend that anyone who now considers him/herself an agnostic to critically question why. Read god is Not Great (Hitchens) and The God Delusion (Dawkins) if you haven’t already, rather than relying on hearsay about these people. I have a couple bones to pick with both, such as Dawkins’ utilitarian approach to morality and Hitchens’ occasional broad brush condemnations. But they do make excellent arguments against theism and agnosticism.

  29. #29 |  Athena | 

    I hate to admit it, but I love the hell out of that Huggies commercial. Say what you want about the product, but that commercial is brilliantly edited, right down to the stereotypical, nonchalant “model glance” the baby makes.

    Cracks me up every time.

  30. #30 |  Carl Drega | 

    “[T]he agnostic is the type who says, “I can’t prove these claims are true, but you can’t prove they are false, so the only proper conclusion is: I don’t know; no one knows; no one can know one way or the other.”

    The agnostic viewpoint poses as fair, impartial, and balanced. See how many fallacies you can find in it. Here are a few obvious ones: First, the agnostic allows the arbitrary into the realm of human cognition. He treats arbitrary claims as ideas proper to consider, discuss, evaluate—and then he regretfully says, “I don’t know,” instead of dismissing the arbitrary out of hand. Second, the onus-of-proof issue: the agnostic demands proof of a negative in a context where there is no evidence for the positive. “It’s up to you,” he says, “to prove that the fourth moon of Jupiter did not cause your sex life and that it was not a result of your previous incarnation as the Pharaoh of Egypt.” Third, the agnostic says, “Maybe these things will one day be proved.” In other words, he asserts possibilities or hypotheses with no jot of evidential basis.

    The agnostic miscalculates. He thinks he is avoiding any position that will antagonize anybody. In fact, he is taking a position which is much more irrational than that of a man who takes a definite but mistaken stand on a given issue, because the agnostic treats arbitrary claims as meriting cognitive consideration and epistemological respect. He treats the arbitrary as on a par with the rational and evidentially supported. So he is the ultimate epistemological egalitarian: he equates the groundless and the proved. As such, he is an epistemological destroyer. The agnostic thinks that he is not taking any stand at all and therefore that he is safe, secure, invulnerable to attack. The fact is that his view is one of the falsest—and most cowardly—stands there can be.”

    -Ayn Rand

  31. #31 |  Aresen | 

    I hope none of these Theistic/Agnostic/Atheistic arguments are going to disparage the ONE TRUE FLYING SPAGHETTI MONSTER.

    Pastafarianism for All!

  32. #32 |  Elliot | 

    All good believers in Bob should cover the FSM idolaters in moldy parmesan.


  33. #33 |  lunchstealer | 


    I’m the other kind of agnostic. I’m the kind who refuses to take the question seriously, on either side.

    I suppose technically I have an open mind in that if some sort of deity showed up and turned some water into beer (without going through the whole mashing/hopping/fermentation process) I’d be willing to admit of the possibility that he was a deity, whilst also acknowledging that he could just be a time-traveling dick of a rich kid from the future with a matter-transfer/transmutation/replication device, some fancy theatrics, and who’d spent way too much time watching re-runs of Punk’d.

  34. #34 |  JS | 

    sorry for the threadjack but this is unbelievable-apparently BP hired cops to prevent reporters from filming or reporting from beaches in Louisiana:

  35. #35 |  Julian | 

    I agree that the grilled cheese burger needs bacon…

    …it could also use a fried egg

  36. #36 |  SJE | 

    I’d suspect that the TSA were the trolls attacking the amputee: look at their treatment of anyone who questions their authoratah. She may be able to determine if the posts were from government computers: which would be an illegal use of government resources, and worthy of an investigation. I’d do it: get those fuckers.

  37. #37 |  File . . . « Oh, My! | 

    […] (Via Radley) Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)GoodEliot Ness on SteroidsThe Drug War’s a […]

  38. #38 |  Wesley | 

    The way theists and apologists have marginalized the term “atheist” is depressing. One of my friends, who agrees with me 100% about religion, once told me she called herself an agnostic because “atheist” sounded “too extreme.” That made me sad.

    Atheist = A/theist, or not theist. If you’re not a theist, you are automatically an atheist. Yes, self-labeled agnostics fall under this umbrella. Yes, people who say “there is not and cannot ever be a god” are also atheists. The problem with the theist/apologist propaganda which asserts that atheists are exclusively the latter is that there are almost no atheists who actually believe that. I personally don’t know any. The most actual atheists say is “I don’t see any evidence to believe in a god, and so I don’t.” It’s not a positive belief, but the mere ABSENCE of one particular positive belief (theism, the existence of a deity). It is, as someone previously mentioned here, just the null hypothesis to the theist assertion.

    Self-labeled agnostics who assert that their wishy-washy position is so much more logical than either theists or atheists (and use their own definitions of the latter) make the same logical errors of theists as they implicitly treat religious assertions different from any other type of claim. If anyone asserted something exists when there’s no evidence for it, what does the agnostic do? Reject it. Why is religion special? Does Zeus exist? Or Xenu? Or the Flying Spaghetti Monster? Is the agnostic answer to those “we can’t know, each each view is equally valid/wrong” (depending on the agnostic)? Why are mainstream religions arbitrarily given more validity, despite an equal lack of evidence?

    Religious claims aren’t special. They should be treated like any other type of claim, and summarily rejected without supporting evidence.

  39. #39 |  Wesley | 

    I just now got around to reading the Slate article. I got to the part where he claims atheism involves faith and rolled my eyes. He’s actually claiming atheists are turning science into a religion! And say “well science doesn’t have all the answers!” So what? Science can only draw conclusions from what we currently know, and we don’t currently claim to be omniscient. Our current lack of knowledge is not justification to reject the scientific method, or to make up crap to fill the gaps.

    This is just the same old tripe, and it is unfortunate that there are people either misguided or deluded enough to take it seriously. I sincerely hope you are just the former, Radley.

    The “celebrity” atheists he mentions (Dawkins, Hitchens, etc.) believe exactly what I posted above — that they reject theism, but don’t positively assert what exists or doesn’t exist. Dawkins has said he thinks a god “probably doesn’t” exist, but is not willing to say with absolute certainty. Which is a rational conclusion considering the world and universe operate exactly as if there was nothing supernatural going on behind the imaginary curtain.

    To address another tired claim, absence of evidence IS evidence of absence. In fact, there’s no other type of evidence of absence. How do you know there’s not a little pink elephant in front of you right now, beyond the fact that your senses give you no evidence to believe one is there?

  40. #40 |  André | 

    My religious views are summed up simply as apatheism. I don’t consider the question of a god’s existence to be relevant to my life, and nobody has ever proven anything in thousands of years, so I give up. I guess it has some overarching similarity to agnosticism.

  41. #41 |  Sydney Carton | 


    You “cut the tether when I read someone point out how cruel it is to convince a child that their beloved grandfather would be burning forever in fire because he wasn’t baptized”?

    Well, of course it’s cruel. And wrong. But you’re just saying that a lie spoken in the name of religion condemns that religion. Or maybe not. One lie won’t make the case. It’s not enough. But all religions use fear and hate and have a love of death, and are fundamentally flawed. That’s it, right?

    “Cut the tether.” An interesting choice of words. The tether is something that keeps you from falling. It is an anchor to a rock. Now you’re just falling, with nothing to hold on to. Interesting choice of words, indeed.

  42. #42 |  flyingsquirrel | 

    A lot of mouthbreathers out there who are capable of insulting an amputee behind the safety of their screens. Shameful but not surprising.

  43. #43 |  - | 

    “absence of evidence IS evidence of absence. In fact, there’s no other type of evidence of absence. How do you know there’s not a little pink elephant in front of you right now, beyond the fact that your senses give you no evidence to believe one is there?”
    True for definable “things”. The pink elephant (of mass and volume between normal newborn and adult elephant) has definable characteristics.
    But the real point is that theities aren’t definable. Theities are virtually (haha) absent by definition. You’ve seen this point often stated as, “yes of course godsantatoothfairyrambothegipper exists, as a concept/literary character.”

  44. #44 |  Hugh Aldrege | 

    I was watching O’Reilly tonight, and he had a top 10 list of people most hated by the left. All 10 were frequent targets here at the Agitator. Plus I would like to hear more about the JournoList scandal.

  45. #45 |  johnl | 

    Wesley religious claims are a little bit special because
    1 – they are old
    2 – they don’t interfere with industry and technological progress
    So we’ve discarded our ancestors ideas about medicine, physics, and such because we found an alternative that’s demonstrably better. But our ancestors ideas about how to live right are often good ones and they are tied up with the cosmology.

    For example. talk about self evident rights endowed by our creator has a tangible quality that can make it real even to child. Secular libertarian thinking is like a bunch of math puzzles, the law of unintended consequences, broken windows, …

  46. #46 |  Wesley | 

    johnl: “old” has absolutely no correlation to “right.” That is a logical fallacy. And the fact that it does no harm in one particular area of human progress is hardly actual evidence in its favor.

    Religious claims are only “special” to people who want to believe regardless of evidence. People make up a lot of excuses to avoid being demonstrated wrong (see: the political hypocrisy often criticized by this blog); that is just a particularly blatant example. A statement on what exists is a statement on what exists; stating so under the guise of religion does not make it any more (or less) legitimate, and it must be judged on its own merits.

  47. #47 |  Aresen | 


    Next time you link to anything relating to the Atheism/Theism debate, please make it a separate header, so that the rest of us who don’t want to rehash this argument can just skip the thread.

    It would be much appreciated, thanks

    Your loyal agitot


  48. #48 |  ClassAction | 


    Since you seem intent on bringing up the “Journolist scandal” in every thread on the site, how about you just skip to the punch line and tell us what you think it means?

  49. #49 |  JS | 


  50. #50 |  Bill | 

    Les – I guess you really provided what I was looking for. You’re point that people should be making the individual decisions not the government is what I was overlooking (and yes, it was right iin front of my nose and I should haven’t have overlooked it). Your sentiment is absolutely correct. While I think more tourism will definitely feed some of the really awful aspects of the regime (like sexual tourism of children), an embargo isn’t waht causes or prevents that ( maybe decreases slightly but that’s a different discussion).

    You’re right – it should be an individual choice. Just like i wouldn’t start mainlining heroin if it was legal, I wouldn’t patronize child prostitutes when in Cuba if I were allowed to. My original thinking is essentially the same thinking that drives Drug Warrior mentality and the thought of agreeing with ‘them’ makes me cringe. After reading your comments, I realized you could just substitute Me with Bill O’Reilly and embargo/travel restrictions with Drug war and you’d hav ethe same argument – that’s more than enough proof I was wrong ;-)

    As you might have been able to see – I felt a certain way but wasn’t sure why (and that’s almost always a sign I need to rethink things). To that end – You won me over ;-) And that means my perfect streak of never disagreeing with Radley remains in tact. That’s why I like this place so much. Thanks!

  51. #51 |  Bill | 

    Aresen – It was confusing b/c honestly, I was confused. Something didn’t feel right about how I felt. After reading yoru comments and Les’, I realized what it was. I’ve lived in Miami most of my life and had countless discussions with refugees about the embargo. My ‘argument’ if it can be called that was based more on emotion than any philosophy. I totally agree with what Les sai d and having the govt make it illegal isn’t the right way to handle things.

    I agree totally as well that the regime would be in shambles b/c of ineptitude and corruption. Where I was coming from on that was just that Shambles might still be ‘good enough’ to remain sustainable indefinitely. In a nutshell though – I was wrong. I usually just lurk b/c I usually agree with the points being made. When I ‘ve disagreed with something before – I usually changed my mind shortly therafter once I could think it through some more. To that end – we’re in total agreement on the travel ban and embargo.

    I don’t however think that the part about demonization is all that compelling. If there wasn’t an embargo, Fidel would still blame us for all the problems. What matters is if people buy into the demonization. From what I’ve seen the Cuban citizenry by and large (which my sample is biased b/c it’s mostly of people who hated it enough to leave), they don’t buy it. They blame Fidel and think that no matter how much wealth Cuba could generate, they’d never see any of it. If we could go over there more though – brave prinicipled people would take risks to get more info and money to the Cuban populace (right now when it’s done Fidel is quick to lock them up) which would certainly help dramatically. He steals pretty much everything but when you’re that destitute, the difference between pretty much and everything can be the difference between eating and starving.

    Decent people wouldn’t patronize child prostitution and people that are looking for that probably don’t let hte embargo stop them (i know the same thing goes on in Haiti even though Haitians aren’t forced other then by economic deprivation) and many other places where there’s no embargo.

    I was uncomfortable with my argument and realize I was wrong. I appreciate that you and Les helped clear it up for me. Not only are libertarian blog readers a lot smarter than their counterparts on the left or right – they’re a lot cooler ;-) Thanks man.

  52. #52 |  Bill | 

    #42 – Hugh, What isyour point? that if O’Reilly says 10 folks are the most hated by the left, and Radley discusses them here frequently that it means he hates them and/or is a leftist? What do you want to know about JournoList? Radley’s not on it? David W was and he worked with Weigel? Are Dave and Radley ideological soul brothas in your estimation?

    Someone around here definitely seems to be pretending to be something they’re not when they post – but it’s Not Radley nor is it any Libertarian

  53. #53 |  Bill | 

    Following up on something I saw in another post, I decided to look around for Hugh Alredge. Funny thing, other than someone who this ‘hugh’ definitely is not, the guy doesn’t exist until today. I’d love to know your secret for staying off the grid like that Hugh. My Life never heard of you. Neither did Intelius. It’s almost like you just made the name up to cover up who you are but someone so committed to honesty and truth wouldn’t ever do something like that, wouldja?

  54. #54 |  Chris in AL | 

    I am a non-practicing agnostic.

  55. #55 |  Kristen | 

    Atheists believe there is no god. Since there is no scientific proof of either the existence or non-existence of any god, atheism is a belief just like any other.

    I’ve always preferred agnostic for myself, since it requires no beliefes, only facts. And the fact is there are no facts when it comes to god.

    Why am I seeing anti-weed ads? Tickles my funny bone to see that ad on this site,

  56. #56 |  ktc2 | 


    Sorry, atheists do not “believe” anything regarding god.

    The atheist position is merely, “I see no evidence for god” and thus they DO NOT believe in god. It is not a statement of belief or faith, but a statement of it’s absence.

  57. #57 |  The Blurbist | 

    No debate about atheism is complete without hearing from PZ Meyers:

    But now, to be fair, I’m going to have to find an excuse to drop Radley’s name on the Pharyngula forums, because Prof. Myers is a tad bristly about libertarians.

  58. #58 |  Dave Krueger | 

    An agnostic’s manifesto. This is about where I’d put myself, too.

    I used to consider myself an agnostic, but having been thoroughly convinced by “believers” that god, as preached by most of the world’s religions is, almost beyond any perceptible doubt, an invention of man’s imagination, I now consider myself an atheist.

    Does that make me certain that there is no god? No. It only makes me certain that the gods of the world’s religions don’t exist and they are not worthy of serious consideration anymore than alien abduction or astrology (which I also enthusiastically denounce).

    Declaring yourself an atheist helps to keep religious riffraff from seeing you as “undecided” which, to them, makes you the perfect target of their efforts to “save your soul” (whether you like it or not). It’s simply a more civilized defense than, say, shooting them.

    Does that mean I put my faith in science? No. It’s not about faith. It’s about evidence and credibility. Religion demands belief while offering neither. And, while it’s true that today’s scientific facts are tomorrow’s myths, at least they make no secret of that fact. And science moves civilization forward instead of anchoring it forever in the past.

    Finally, if agnostics tire of the aggressive rhetoric of the “new atheism, tough. Religion is just an idea and a pretty fuckin’ ridiculous (not to mention dangerous) one in the modern age. While it may not be responsible for all the conflict in the world, it most certainly defines the teams in most of them. When you’re “God’s chosen people”, what does that make everyone else? Certainly inferior. Three fifths comes to mind.

    Just to make it clear, I’m not just down on religion, I’m pretty much down on any institution that wants to force the population into a straight jacket of social conformity based on some moral code cooked up by a sector of society whose main claim to fame is their absolute intolerance of any life style that differs from their own. The fact that those people just happen to make up the overwhelming majority of the population of the world is immaterial. I’m not a big fan of the concept of “that many people can’t be wrong”. They can and religion is proof.

  59. #59 |  Bryan | 

    “The coolest you will look pooping your pants.”

    That is the greatest tag line in any ad. Ever.

  60. #60 |  Marc | 

    Grilled cheese and hamburger is awesome, though I have always put the burger inside the grilled cheese. You should try it. Works well with bacon too.

  61. #61 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    Regarding agnosticism, I like that Maher quote: What’s wrong
    with telling your kids “I don’t Know [the secret of the universe]”?
    It makes people feel like they’re not good parents.
    I wonder if that’s what God is, the Great Riddle.

  62. #62 |  flukebucket | 

    The Cuban government is about to fall!

    …and we have turned the corner in Afghanistan! Just another Friedman unit or two and we will be there.

  63. #63 |  Joe | 

    I am so sorry that amputee mom had to go through that with the TSA and then with out of control commentators.

    The TSA needs to be reminded it is about serving and protecting us all, not in the job of humiliating us because some guard is upset with his job and needs to take it out on the traveling public.

    And for those commentators who think a personal attack about a blog host’s son is open game for your insults–fuck you too. I do not care what your political persuasion is, you deserve to get your ass kicked for that nonsense.

  64. #64 |  Chelle S. | 

    I wanted to say something about sanctions, but I can’t stop thinking about that burger.

    If cows were extinct I’d hang myself.

  65. #65 |  Cynical in CA | 

    From the Slate contributor: “In fact, I challenge any atheist, New or old, to send me their answer to the question: “Why is there something rather than nothing?” I can’t wait for the evasions to pour forth. Or even the evidence that this question ever could be answered by science and logic.”

    Precisely. Who says there has to be an answer to every question?

    However, skepticism can only be taken so far in the real world. At some point, a human being has to take care of his/her animal needs. That requires suspending epistemological skepticism and accepting the world as real at a foundational level, whether it make sense or not.

    On a side note, I prefer the term “rational,” rather than “atheist.” “Atheist” gives too much credit to “theist,” as it is incumbent on those who believe in a god to prove the existence of their god. In that context, for the true atheist, the word “atheist” is meaningless, a negative of something they don’t believe exists.

  66. #66 |  Charlie O | 

    Friendly’s is missing the ultimate. hamburger w/bacon/cheese between a Krispy Kreme donut.

  67. #67 |  Cynical in CA | 

    #2 | John Jenkins — “Science doesn’t answer grand thematic questions. It incrementally pushes back the veil of darkness that surrounds our existence.”

    You and I have had our differences John, but that was one helluva concise and cogent post.

    I’ll only add that Einstein said, “”As the circle of light increases, so does the circumference of darkness around it.”

  68. #68 |  Charlie O | 

    With regard to dealing with the TSA (or other so-called Authorities). One problem is too many Americans are cowed when threatened with arrest. Some TSA nitwit threatens to have a traveler arrested, they shut up and comply. Bullshit! Challenge them, or, tell them to fuck off. I had a problem at BWI once. Was recuperating from foot surgery. Couldn’t take off my shoes and walk around sock footed. You DO NOT have to take off your shoes at ANY airport. You just have to be prepared for secondary screening, where they take your shoes from you and run them through the scanner for you.

    Anyways, I quietly explained my problem to the guy at the scanner, he must have been new because he didn’t seem to understand the problem and called over a supervisor, who immediately got belligerent and in my face, demanding “and what’s your problem?” I’m the kind of guy who gives what he gets, you act like an asshole, you get an asshole. Bigger asshole.

    Anyways, it turned into a bit of a shouting match. I wasn’t threatened with arrest, but rather threatened with denial to fly. I told the TSA supervisor, “no problem. My car’s in the parking lot, I don’t HAVE to fly anywhere.” I was more than ready and willing to turn and leave. Fuck them and their threats. Anyway, I made my flight that day and continued with my day. Don’t cower to them. Stand up to their threats.

  69. #69 |  Cynical in CA | 

    #45 | johnl — “For example. talk about self evident rights endowed by our creator has a tangible quality that can make it real even to child. Secular libertarian thinking is like a bunch of math puzzles, the law of unintended consequences, broken windows, …”

    I’ve found that demonstrating proper behavior to a child through one’s own words and actions is easily as instructive to a child as attributing same proper behavior to an invisible, unprovable entity. And my method has the advantage of coming from an entity that can actually be demonstrated to exist.

  70. #70 |  flukebucket | 

    #44 Hugh

    Plus I would like to hear more about the JournoList scandal.

    You need to check out the last few days posts over at Balloon-Juice.

    There is a lot of hilarious shit on that topic.

  71. #71 |  Brian | 

    What Rosenbaum has defined is atheism. Atheists are skeptics too. Minus evidence a skeptic isn’t going to believe a truth claim whether it’s about unicorns on mars or a supernatural entity. It’s a misconception to think atheists are as certain in their beliefs as the religious. Thinking the prescriptions of religion are based on nonsense and that the institutions dole out mind rot isn’t the same as saying I know for a fact there is no god.

  72. #72 |  A.G. Pym | 

    The best way to bring down the Cuban government as it now exists would be to end _all_ sanctions against Cuba, not just the travel ban. Once free and open communciation is available, (and consumer goods), the old-line communists in power won’t be able to keep up or cope.

    Remember how the USSR lost control quickly once communications began flowing more freely in ways they were not equipped to cope with.

    As for why there’s something not nothing, it appears that some obscure quality of matter favors a certain type of decay over another, such that a very slight excess of matter vs. antimatter exists. Mix fundamental particles in extreme conditions, bake, allow to rest for ~14 By, and there you go.

  73. #73 |  albatross | 

    Charlie O:

    It’s striking how much influence on peoples’ behavior it has when they can ruin your day, even when they can’t get away with anything really nasty. A TSA agent isn’t likely to arrest me, a cop isn’t likely to beat me senseless, and a DMV employee probably can’t really keep me from getting my license. But all three can (and will, if sufficiently annoyed) mess up my day and waste a bunch of my time.

    Under normal circumstances, this isn’t a big problem. I don’t go around screaming insults at random people, even when I’m pretty annoyed. But at times, the people in those jobs are very visibly aware that they can ruin your day, and use that to get a little deference or groveling or whatever. And usually, it pays to put up with it, both because I’ll never see the idiot again (so why spend resources today to acquire a no-fun-to-bully reputation?), and because I don’t have a vast store of time and flexibility in my schedule available for dealing with someone keeping me off my flight to “teach me a lesson” about mouthiness.

  74. #74 |  johnl | 

    Right Charlie O. The TSA doesn’t really want to call the cops. They don’t even want to call the airline and tell them to pull your baggage out.

  75. #75 |  Elliot | 

    Sydney Carton (#41): “You “cut the tether when I read someone point out how cruel it is to convince a child that their beloved grandfather would be burning forever in fire because he wasn’t baptized”?”

    I didn’t explicate as my comment was already very long and I was in a hurry. I cut the “tether” of my own residual Christian fear/guilt, which was mostly what kept me from getting down off the irrational agnostic fence.

    There are plenty of strong arguments against theism (or any faith in supernatural things). That’s a separate matter. Cruelty and psychological manipulation are side effects of theism, which are useful to point out to apologists. But even if religious people and organizations were all sunshine and happiness, that wouldn’t make the assertions of faith any more true.

    “But all religions use fear and hate and have a love of death, and are fundamentally flawed. That’s it, right?”

    Beyond the error of believing in imaginary things, all traditional religions are fundamentally poisoned. Abrahamic religions are founded on hateful, murderous stories (genocide of whole peoples, Jephthah murdering his daughter, Lot offering his daughters to a rape mob, etc.) and the leaders have a terrible history of murder and oppression (until Enlightenment secularists reign them in). Christianity and Islam, like many Eastern religions, encourage people to stupidly sacrifice of their one and only life for some fictional afterlife. That’s a worship of death over life.

    Not all religions are so poisoned. There are “feel good” fads, in which people believe in some vague, watered-down harmony or whatnot. But without the fear and hatred to keep people from walking away, these fads fade away.

    ““Cut the tether.” An interesting choice of words. The tether is something that keeps you from falling. It is an anchor to a rock. Now you’re just falling, with nothing to hold on to. Interesting choice of words, indeed.”

    So a slave’s chains keep him in a good place?

    I don’t fear getting off the agnostic fence, because it did me no good. Living without fear or guilt, being free to follow my rational intellect without making special allowances for nonsense, is not falling, in any sense. I’m standing on solid ground, not pretending I’m dancing in clouds or sitting on a fence afraid to call ridiculous ideas ridiculous.

  76. #76 |  Elliot | 

    Kristen (#55): “I’ve always preferred agnostic for myself, since it requires no beliefes, only facts. And the fact is there are no facts when it comes to god.”

    Substitute “atheist” for “agnostic” in that paragraph and that’s exactly what I say. You’re confused about atheism if you think that all or most atheists have some sort of faith-like belief that there is absolutely no god. It’s just a matter of considering the idea about as worthy of consideration as a belief in orbiting teapots and fairies making the flowers grow.

    Belief in imaginary things isn’t just as reasonable as a belief there is no reason to believe in those imaginary things.

  77. #77 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #76 Elliot

    Belief in imaginary things isn’t just as reasonable as a belief there is no reason to believe in those imaginary things.

    Wow. I think I’m puttin’ that on my tombstone.

  78. #78 |  Elliot | 

    Dave, you might want to diagram that inelegant sentence, first. It could do with a good rewrite for clarity.

    I hate when I have to reread my own sentence a couple times to parse it correctly.

  79. #79 |  mattt | 

    re: the Friendly’s Burgermelt…

    It makes me wonder about a Conversation of Carbs theory. The bread that KFC’s Double Down lost, has manifested around the Burgermelt! Hmmm….