Yes, it has been a long and busy year, with a lot of changes both here on MTGS and elsewhere in the world. But not so many changes that the world has not completed its circuit around the sun once again, and so we are gathered here to celebrate that achievement on this day of the circle constant, 3/14, Pi Day!
...except the earth's orbit is not a circle. It is an ellipse, and as such the earth varies in its distance from the sun. So are we celebrating on the wrong day? The ratio of half the orbital perimeter to the distance at aphelion (a calculation which, on a circle, would produce pi) says we should celebrate on March 9th, and at perihelion, March 19th. However, I am pleased to report that if we base our calculation on the earth's average distance from the sun -- the orbit's semi-major axis -- we get a value of 3.1417 and change. In short: pi may be irrational, but our orbit isn't very eccentric. Which means that today, March 14th, we can with three significant digits and a clear conscience commemorate both a remarkable number and the remarkable yearly journey of this great big rock we call home.
So put your pastries in the oven and break out your Just Desserts decks, for today we party for pi!
- Blinking Spirit
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May 5, 2017Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as they say, but the aphorism is not usually understood as it ought to be: how miraculous must be this eye of the beholder, to serve as source for all the beauty in the universe! Beauty is not a physical phenomenon. No "beauty particle" flies through space to strike the retina. A goldfish or a GoPro could look up at the stars, process the visual image just as well as we, and yet remain unmoved by the sight. Only human beings wonder what they are -- and that wonder is such a deep part of our nature that our youngest children sing about it in nursery rhymes. Immeasurably tiny as we are beneath the cosmos, we have the ultimate power over it, that of appreciation. The laws of physics wrought the stars as blind, dead things hanging in emptiness; it is only in our eyes that they become sublime.Posted in: Debate
And it gets better. We are not merely beholders of stars. When we turn to behold each other, then the magic really begins. Every single human being has their own vision of the universe reflected in their eyes. We all see the same universe, but we all see it differently. Seven billion universes, each one similar enough to our own that communication is possible between them, but utterly unique in its majesty. As if one cosmos were not vast enough to give us endless marvels, we will never run out of new ones to explore. With friends!
We have got to be the luckiest damn creatures in existence.
So don't waste these opportunities. Don't waste this power of appreciation. If you don't see the beauty in stars and rocks and beetles and humans, then nothing else in the universe will.
Don't be so proud as to think that you have nothing to gain from listening to other perspectives. You're missing out on entire universes. And the craziest ones are often the most fascinating.
And don't be so humble as to think that you have nothing to offer others in your perspective. You, too, contain an entire universe, and nobody else can see it unless you let them.
May 1, 2017Posted in: Debate
I should stress, though, that the Debate moderators were a part of the discussion and support the final decision.
Apr 22, 2017Posted in: Debate
China's been making grumpy noises about North Korea for a while. It's been a very long time since they actually liked the Kim regime; they just want to see a pro-Western unified Korea on their border even less. Stopping coal imports is a new and positive development, but it represents a step-up in China's existing frustration, not a dramatic about-face in their attitude, and does not signal that they can be relied upon to support, e.g., pressure to liberalize. As long as North Korea doesn't embarrass them by trying to obliterate South Korea, they don't mind it being a dysfunctional hermit state prone to horrific human rights abuses.Quote from Firevine »^ Precisely that.
The missile barrage on the empty airfield in Syria occurred while Xi Jinping was here in the states. Trumps moves are showing that he's not going to play these games, and it's making China step up and say "Maybe we should stop playing too then". 80% of North Koreas trade is with China, so when China says "enough is enough", this little dog and pony show is over.
So I'd be cautious in my optimism here.
Apr 22, 2017Posted in: Debate
The problem is that, as in Russian roulette, the only way to find out is to pull that trigger.Quote from Highroller »Is maintaining the status quo truly the most beneficial stance?
Would an escalation of conflict truly result in nuclear armageddon?
If Trump escalates and North Korea starts shooting, clearly Trump is a reckless and irresponsible leader.
But if Trump escalates and North Korea backs down, does that make Trump a foreign policy genius, or just a reckless and irresponsible leader who got lucky this time?
Apr 22, 2017North Korea's antics are North Korea's fault. Always.Posted in: Debate
But it's the responsibility of the US President and other world leaders to respond to those antics and keep them from boiling over into a shooting war. Trump is very capable of screwing that part up.
Apr 19, 2017We cannot keep circling back around to the topic of suicide. We have already seen how these discussions quickly move from the philosophical to the personal. That is the kind of talk you need to have with family, friends, and doctors, not the internet.Posted in: Philosophy
If you are thinking about harming yourself or attempting suicide, tell someone who can help right away.
- Call your doctor’s office.
- Call 911 for emergency services.
- Go to the nearest hospital emergency room.
- In the US, call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) to be connected to a trained counselor at a suicide crisis center nearest you.
- To find a suicide helpline outside the U.S., visit IASP and Suicide.org
It is not unreasonable to ask a family member or friend to help you make these calls or take you to the hospital.
If you have a family member or friend who is suicidal, do not leave him or her alone. Try to get the person to seek help immediately from an emergency room, physician, or mental health professional. Take seriously any comments about suicide or wishing to die. Even if you do not believe your family member or friend will actually attempt suicide, the person is clearly in distress and can benefit from your help in receiving mental health treatment.
Apr 15, 2017Posted in: Debate
Citation needed. Chemical weapons are difficult to produce and deploy. It's a safe bet that if they're used, it's by a state actor.
Oh, is that what the Allies did to Germany and Japan in World War II?
You might want to double-check your timeline on that. The Syrian Civil War broke out in mid-2011. The al-Nusra Front formed in the chaos in early 2012, and merged with al-Qaeda in Iraq to create ISIS in the spring of 2013. ISIS is an effect, not a cause, of the Syrian Civil War (and Exhibit A in the case for Why the West Should Have Intervened Immediately).
Apr 14, 2017Posted in: Philosophy
If you think this is the case, I would like to invite you to come gambling with me. We can bet on coin flips. I'll provide the coin. And I'll always bet on heads. But I'll let you go double or nothing for as long as you like. Hell, not even double or nothing -- I will wager my entire winnings on every flip no matter what you put up on your side. If you think there's no reason to treat the coin we flip as unfair, if you think there's always a chance you might win all your money back, surely this must sound like a great deal, right?Quote from AzureDuality »Your probability doesn't speak to those small chances though. Sure you could conclude that it's an unfair coin but you cannot really do that. You could be caught in the rare chance that it's all heads. There is no reason to treat it as unfair, you have no confidence to treat it so because you are stuck in that small probability event.
But if, over the course of this little game, you begin to feel a growing suspicion that you are being cheated -- that's your confidence in the coin's fairness falling. That's the result of all the empirical evidence you're observing. And it's a good thing. It's the rational thing. Nobody is going to look at a guy who lost all his money betting against a two-headed coin and think, "Oh, this is a wise fellow, I should listen to what he has to say concerning the deepest mysteries of life and existence."
Apr 11, 2017Posted in: Debate
The leaders of the American Revolution wrote the Supreme Court appointment process. They had an outright fetish for governmental procedure and the rule of law. The election of 1800 was the first time in modern history an elected head of state had been voted out of office, and despite the bitter partisan rivalry between Adams and Jefferson it went off without a hitch. So don't try to tell me that they'd be down with hijacking a Court seat.
...what? Whatever you think about that, it had nothing to do with an acquisition of political office. Are you just throwing out random grievances?
The name of the forum is "Debate". If you're not willing to explain your reasoning, what are you doing here?
It's not the job of local police officers to enforce federal laws.
If being a left-wing judge is bad enough to violate the Constitution over, why shouldn't being fascist be bad enough to impeach over? You were the one who introduced this notion that political ideology is a valid test for holding an office.
Apr 11, 2017Posted in: Debate
Yes.Quote from Mockingbird »Are you sure a nominee must have the consent of the Senate?
Yeah, there's a reason Constitutional Law Professor Obama didn't do that.Quote from Mockingbird »If I remember correctly though, there was pressure on Garland and Obama to use the fact that the Constitution was just vague enough that to interpret inaction as relinquishing consent to put Garland on the court and then roll the dice in Court when a challenge arose.
Apr 11, 2017Posted in: Debate
If the Constitution "requires people who will fight government tyranny", then you're disqualified. You are clearly stating here that you yourself "view government tyranny as an acceptable means to an end". Tyranny is the unlawful seizure of political power. That's exactly what the GOP did. How bad does it have to be before you draw the line? If Trump lost in 2020 to a left-wing candidate but then staged a coup and declared himself King, would that be a "necessary evil" too?
Apr 10, 2017Posted in: Debate
The Senate's constitutional duty is to provide "advice and consent" for presidential appointments. In not holding hearings or a vote for Garland the Senate failed to do this, and left one of the most important offices in the federal government empty for a year. This is unconscionable.Quote from zoboso »in sum the republican senators were not stealing the nomination, the senate controls the nomination.
Even if this is true, that doesn't make it right.Quote from zoboso »They did their job for their constituents, If the democrats were in the same position they'ds do the same thing
Apr 10, 2017Posted in: Debate
And I'm not saying that attitude is totally unjustified. An awful lot of the mess in the Middle East can be laid at the feet of American screwups. But it does tend to lead to a thought pattern of "Whenever anything bad happens, America is directly responsible", which is inaccurate (and plays into the interests of many other parties who are also busily ruining the region).Quote from FearDReaper »As for my Syrian friends you may be correct. There is a lot of antagonistic views of America over there.
I watched a few minutes of it, and I could dig into the details, but the fundamental problem is that it's from October of 2016, and is not talking about the Trump Administration at all.Quote from FearDReaper »Blinking Spirit, you have earned my respect in the past and I value your opinion quote highly. If you don't mind I'd love to hear your opinion on this article that my Syrian friends showed me. It's done by TYT Network and I usually value their reports highly as well. https://youtu.be/NjOr2YzrZDY According to my friends this is how most Syrians view this war.
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