1984 + ?

This is a repost of a Traditores.org article from about a decade ago.

Church image with interferenceAs Jeremy passed the deteriorating wood-tiled church on North Main Street, he tried to remember just how long ago its large doors had been locked for the last time. Was it ten years? Longer? Shorter? However far back it was, the doors were no longer white, having lost the battle with weather that any abandoned building does. Its handicapped ramp had also, long ago, seen its rust color turn into the hue of gray decay. From the looks of it, it also lost its structural integrity—a fitting unsafe entry path to an unused church.

For that matter, even religious worship would have been permitted if the proles had shown any sign of needing or wanting it.1

Jeremy tried to narrow down the actual year by remembering other connected events. Although what finally finished off the small congregation was the hate-crime judgment against their minister, he wasn’t the first conviction in Antrim when the Tolerance Purge (“Tolperge” in Newspeak) arrived. Not surprisingly, the first Tolperge drive avoided houses of worship, focusing instead on businesses. Religious kooks would be allowed their bigotry, at least for a time, but owning a business was a privilege in the eyes of the Federal Government, the Department of Tolerance, and their Tolerance Czar (“Fedgov,” “Deptol,” and “Czartol” respectively). Read More

Is this the Current “Third Rail”?

Is this the current “third rail”?:

I think a white conservative person using the n-word (which nobody should use), is probably more of an instant pariah-making incident, but I am not sure refusing to treat a trans woman as completely a woman is very far behind nowadays.

My thoughts?

On censorship, “private company” or not: 99.9% against it (and this does not fall within the 0.1%). Also, given much of social media censorship is, at best, in alignment with governments and, at worst, at government request…I believe it is a civil rights infringement of the 1st Amendment.

On the controversy around how trans people must be treated and what should be done to those who refuse to acquiesce: I’ll have to save that for another time. Given the caustic and career-ending nature of this latest battle in the culture wars, I’ll want to make sure I have my thoughts entirely together, and that I take time to word it so as not to give needless offense to either side. Whether I agree with you or not, I care about you, your opinions, and…yes…your feelings.

“Study: Medical Marijuana Leads to Addiction, Not Shown to Be Effective”

Much of the legalization of marijuana, including for recreational use, was justified with the argument that people were being deprived of the medical benefits of marijuana. This study creates additional questions as to whether that is really the case and continues a trend of an absence of evidence on the alleged benefits of marijuana. Additionally, many pushing for legalizing medical marijuana have argued that those using it for medical purposes would be much less likely to develop an addiction — a perception undermined by this study.



Please, Please, PLEASE!

Although, couldn’t they do it after we get our hour back? 🙂

“And remember that without the truth, we can be neither safe nor free.”

Once I respect a person, a form of loyalty kicks in, and it’s hard for me to give it up. Sadly, I am getting close to that with Mitt Romney. I grew to respect him during his presidential run, even attending his rally in Manchester, New Hampshire the night before he lost the election (if I remember correctly).

This tweet from yesterday isn’t the first thing he’s said or done that has disappointed me:

If I’m chatting with some guy at the local convenience store, I have no expectations his words will always be well thought out or well-informed. As for a tweet from someone as accomplished as Mr. Romney…those should reflect thorough consideration and accuracy.

Perhaps Tulsi Gabbard is incorrect. Perhaps part of that inaccuracy is Russian propaganda. But…

  • This country is not Russia, so we encourage free speech
  • Just because what you say is beneficial to your “enemy,” doesn’t make it wrong or verboten
  • Treason (“treasonous lies”) has very specific…extremely negative…connotations and Gabbard has not committed it

But, to be honest, that’s not why I am writing this post. After a very thorough rebuttal of Romney’s ill-advised tweet, Gabbard wrapped up with a line that needs to be repeated over-and-over:

Now, her suggestion that a politician should resign ‘cause he said something really stupid may not be reasonable (we’d have very few left if that was taken to heart), but…

”And remember that without the truth, we can neither be safe nor free” should be framed and put up on a wall.

Kudos former Congresswoman Gabbard!

P.S. Here are images of the exchange, in case any tweets disappear: Read More

Season 1 Episode 4 – Social Media & Bearing False Witness

The fourth episode of Aletheia Quest with Alan Fahrner is “Social Media & Bearing False Witness,” where I look at…perhaps…the Commandment most broken on social media.

S1 E4 YouTube ThumbnailI’ll also look at truth in context of a current event and have our Logical Fallacy or Cognitive Bias of the Week.

0:00 – Intro
1:09 – Current Event
3:26 – Logical Fallacy or Cognitive Bias of the Week
5:06 – Social Media & Bearing False Witness
24:23 – “If You Got Love” by David Britt

A few shout-outs:

Scriptures in this broadcast (all “English Standard Version”):

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor (Exodus 20:16).

You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness. You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice, nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his lawsuit (Exodus 23:1-3).

A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will not escape (Proverbs 19:5).

A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will perish (Proverbs 19:9).

A false witness will perish, but the word of a man who hears will endure (Proverbs 21:28).

Be not a witness against your neighbor without cause, and do not deceive with your lips.  Do not say, “I will do to him as he has done to me; I will pay the man back for what he has done” (Proverbs 24:28-29).

And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them (Luke 6:31).

And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 19:16-19).

Please let me know what you think!

– Alan

P.S. You can watch David sing “If You Got Love” right here:

(Cross-posted on my Aletheia Quest blog.)

Is Reading Fiction Important?

I said, more than a few times, that I prefer non-fiction books over fiction ones. Why? Because with non-fiction, if you get 100 pages in and realize you don’t like it, you can just stop reading it and move on. Not so with fiction. If you are 100 pages in, even if the writing is horrible, you are committed. You want to know how it all plays out.

Maybe not for you, but it’s true for me, and I read relatively little fiction, because of it. (Although, I probably could be happy reading a mix of Sherlock Holmes and H.P. Lovecraft over-and-over. :-))

Stolen Focus book cover
Image from Amazon.com

That’s why I had to take a step back when I read something about a beneficial effect fiction has (that non-fiction does not) in Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention–and How to Think Deeply Again, by Johann Hari. After writing this:

I like the person I become when I read a lot of books. I dislike the person I become when I spend a lot of time on social media.

He continued…

But I wondered if I was getting carried away—these were just my hunches, after all—so later, I went to the University of Toronto to interview Raymond Mar, who is a professor of psychology there. Raymond is one of the social scientists who has done most in the world to study the effects that reading books has on our consciousness, and his research has helped to open up a distinctive way of thinking about this question.

This is where it gets tricky to elaborate on, without copying too much. 🙂 Basically, Mar and his mentor, Keith Oatley, wondered:

When you read a novel, you are immersing yourself in what it’s like to be inside another person’s head. You are simulating a social situation. You are imagining other people and their experiences in a deep and complex way. So maybe, he said, if you read a lot of novels, you will become better at actually understanding other people off the page. Perhaps fiction is a kind of empathy gym, boosting your ability to empathize with other people—which is one of the most rich and precious forms of focus we have.

(Emphasis mine.)

So they figured out a way to study it…and…

When they got the results, they were clear. The more novels you read, the better you were at reading other people’s emotions. It was a huge effect. This wasn’t just a sign that you were better educated—because reading nonfiction books, by contrast, had no effect on your empathy.

Hari then shares Mar’s explanation for why this is true, including:

Each of us can only ever experience a small sliver of what it’s like to be a human being alive today, Raymond told me, but as you read fiction, you see inside other people’s experiences. That doesn’t vanish when you put down the novel. When you later meet a person in the real world, you’ll be better able to imagine what it’s like to be them. Reading a factual account may make you more knowledgeable, but it doesn’t have this empathy-expanding effect.


I’m convinced enough that I am going to purposely mix more fiction into my reading. You?

I would buy Stolen Focus and read it…even if you already imbibe plenty of fiction. Perhaps you’ve avoided the attention-ruining effects of modern Internet, social media, and smartphone apps, but I suspect not. Although I haven’t finished the entire book yet, it is helping me understand why it is such a battle for me to sit and read more than ten minutes, and will give me some tools to correct it.

Well, enough writing…time to prep for my next podcast!

(Cross-posted on my Data Guy (Me) blog.)

Why You Should Read “Why Would Anyone Follow Jesus?”

Why Would Anyone Follow Jesus?: 12 Reasons to Trust What the Bible Says about JesusWhy Would Anyone Follow Jesus?: 12 Reasons to Trust What the Bible Says about Jesus by Ray Comfort
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As I lay here with a cat laying on my left arm and a dog resting under my right, I have a renewed hope that I’ll finally go out and evangelize as I should. Not only have the 12 chapters (and “Final Word”) of Why Would Anyone Follow Jesus?: 12 Reasons to Trust What the Bible Says about Jesus given me additional tools to do so, but Ray’s openness near the end is inspiring and encouraging:

“At the best of times, I’m not excited to witness to the lost. In fact, I never have any joy when I’m about to share the gospel. Rather, I have a measure of controlled fear.”

If what has been holding me back hasn’t held him back for 40 years, I can do this, and so can you. (By the way, he then goes on, “But I never fail to bubble with joy afterward…”)

Who are the audiences for this book? Both the saved and the unsaved.

Image from Amazon.com

– If you aren’t saved, you’ll be given ample reason to reconsider while not insulting your intelligence.
– If you are a brother or sister in Christ, you’ll be reminded why you believe, be provided tools for reaching others, and get a kind, but pointed, reminder that if you truly believe what you claim, you have to stop ignoring the lost souls God is putting in your path.

It is a relatively short book, enjoyable, and easy to digest. Reading Ray’s words are like listening to a caring, wise uncle. Regardless of whether you are a Christian or not it is worth your time. At worst, you have “lost” some hours of your life, this side of eternity. However, if Ray is right (and he is), you could…instead…gain eternal life on the other side.

Final comment: I especially appreciated the Witness Encounters. At first, I thought they were “padding” the book, but quickly realized their tremendous value. If you don’t believe, they’ll help answer your objections. If you do, then they’ll provide invaluable insights on how to spread the gospel.

Thank you Ray. To God be the glory.

View all my reviews

(Crossposted on Goodreads and my Aletheia Quest blog.)

What a Beautiful Song

What a beautiful song: “I Do” by Aloe Blacc:

Here is another version, sung with LeAnn Rimes:

BTW, the whole album, “All Love Everything,” is just amazing. I have loved Aloe Blacc’s voice since “Give Me a Dollar.” If you aren’t familiar with him, you have been totally missing out.

This album has lifted my spirits on a cold, snowy March day…


“The time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God.”

The scariest thing about articles like this is that those who are doing evil are convinced they are doing good:

As Jonathan Turley notes:

Despite my strong support for Ukraine and condemnation of Putin, it is important for advocates of civil liberties and free speech to be vigilant in calling out such abusive measures. It is during wartime and periods of social discord that the greatest abuses can occur for those with dissenting or unpopular views.

Before addressing this latest controversy, it is also important to respond to rather fowhat has become a rationalization on the left for attacks on free speech in recent years: the First Amendment only protects speech from government crackdowns. The First Amendment is not the full or exclusive embodiment of free speech. It addresses just one of the dangers to free speech posed by government regulation. Many of us view free speech as a human right. Corporate censorship of social media clearly impacts free speech, and replacing Big Brother with a cadre of Little Brothers actually allows for far greater control of free expression.


When many artists opposed the Vietnam War, there was widespread support for their free speech rights in opposing blacklisting. The same was true during the McCarthy period. Now, the very same people who celebrate such struggles as defining moments in our history are seeking to cancel artists for their political views. In this case, Netrebko is not even being targeted for saying something offensive but rather for not repeating the position of the majority on the war. Years ago, I wrote that there was a dangerous trend toward compelled speech: “The line between punishing speech and compelling speech is easily crossed when free speech itself is viewed as a threat.” We appear to have crossed that line.

Being able to say what you believe (free speech) is a human right. If you don’t agree, you must at least believe not being forced to say something is a human right.


Finally, here is a quote from an NBC article Turley links to in his piece:

The Met also said it would construct its own sets and costumes for next season’s new production of Wagner’s “Lohengrin” rather than share them with Moscow’s Bolshoi Opera, as originally planned.

Depersoning Russians continues at full throttle.

P.S. The title of this post is part of John 16:2 in the New International Version. No, I am not saying what happened to Netrebco is equivalent, but it was what came to mind when I read about her situation. So much evil is being done by people who think what they are doing is righteous.


Bad Things Are Still Bad When “Good” People Do Them

Please check out this article at the NY Post:

Russia’s parliament passed a law Friday that criminalizes “fake” news — and carries a prison sentence of up to 15 years — for journalists who contradict the country’s official statements about the Ukraine invasion, according to officials and reports.

Under the law, which is set to go into effect Saturday, journalists face the potential whopping jail sentence for intentionally spreading “false” information — including using such words as “war” and “invasion” to describe the Russian attack.

Of course, criminalizing fake news is totally bogus, but I imagine many who are aghast at the mov have no issue with calls to fight misinformation here in the U.S. (and in other Western countries). It’s from the same spirit.

“But, this is different, because it directed at journalists!,” you might exclaim. Well…

Citizens who aren’t members of the media also face criminal charges and fines of up to $44,740 for reposting articles on social media that contradict or criticize the Kremlin’s depiction of the war, according to the paper.

The only difference in this case is they went straight to journalists too. Also, don’t forget how the NY Post was censored by Twitter during the 2020 presidential election when the had a story that hurt Biden. (“But that was a private business, not the government!,” you’ll insist. That is a meaningless distinction when the government is pushing private businesses to do more to combat misinformation. Right now it may not be with threats of arrest, but there are many more ways for politicians in power to punish those who don’t do their bidding.)

One more quote, before I wrap up (also from the NY Post):

Former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul said Friday the move showed desperation by Putin, who is said to be holed up in the Ural Mountains, fuming at the resistance his army is facing in Ukraine — and at home.

“Obviously Putin is shutting these people down because he is afraid. He wouldn’t be shutting them down if everything was going peachy keen,” McFaul said during a call with reporters and experts hosted by Stanford’s Cyber Policy Center. “This is an indicator of his state of mind.”

“They are afraid,” could be said of those trying to shut down misinformation, fake news, etc. over here too. They wouldn’t be treating misinformation as the ultimate boogeyman “if everything was going peach keen.”

Evil tools are still evil when used by “good” people with “good” reasons and “good” intentions.

But, let’s be honest, anybody who tries to shut down free speech (versus respond to it) is probably not good (and does not have good reasons or good intentions). They have selfish ulterior motives.

Improving Your Decision Making

I don’t know if this is a “noble lie,” but…

  • If true: More kudos to Zelensky
  • True or false: Great advice for every politician…actually, for every human being

Image, just in case the tweet disappears: Read More