Wrong way, World

America, having elected its first black president, could have gone on to elect its first socialist president or its first female president.  Instead, it elected its first sociopath president.

Hillary Clinton is nothing if not experienced: over forty years (starting before her marriage to Bill Clinton), she has been a congressional legal counsel, chair of the Legal Services Corporation, a worker for children’s and women’s rights, First Lady, US Senator, Secretary of State.  Her opponent insinuated that, being a year older than him, she might not have stamina: on the contrary, during her grueling campaign we found ourselves exclaiming “She must have incredible stamina!”  Not all about her is to my liking, but many of the objections raised against her are false.  (Read the first bit, about the “insecure email server.”)

Donald Trump is without qualification: has never before held any elected office.  (It was surprising how little this was mentioned.)  He is, as the New Yorker put it, “a serial liar and shady businessman”.  He had public recognition chiefly as the host of a “reality” television show, suited to his arrogance: contestants had to compete for jobs in his businesses by groveling to him.  (He so enjoyed barking “You’re fired!” that he tried to copyright the words.) He entered politics by taking up the “birther” conspiracy theory, the falsehood that Barack Obama was not born in the U.S. He has been described by those dealing with him, even those working for him, as having “no attention span” and no interest in anything but himself, as being “deranged”.

In the debates against a calm Clinton, he didn’t deign to prepare, or to heed the advice of his handlers or the instructions of the moderator to wait for his turn, and came over as a bullying and inarticulate interrupter, flouting elementary good manners: “What a nasty woman.”

He has called women “ugly” and “pigs.”  He bragged (off the record, as he thought) that because of being rich he could with impunity grab any woman “by the pussy.”

He would deport Syrian asylum-seekers.    He proposed to ban Muslims from entering the US.  He said that Mexicans coming to the US are criminals and rapists, and wants to build a wall along the US-Mexican border.  (There is a story that Mexico offers to build and pay for that wall – along the 1836 pre-US-invasion border!)  Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” could have been “Make America Hate Again.”

By claiming a loss of $916 million in one year, Trump avoided paying any federal income tax for 18 years; but, when this was revealed, refused to disclose his tax records.  He has filed for bankruptcy four times; been involved in 3,500 court cases; faces charges over allegations that he defrauded students who expected a business education at his defunct Trump University, avoided paying his employees, bankrupted small businesses, harassed women, raped a 13-year-old girl – some of these, including the last, are due to put him in court in the near future.  (Yet he had the effrontery to describe Clinton as a “criminal” and encourage his supporters to shout “Lock her up!”)

Among other repellent policies,  he advocates torture – the near-to-death form of it called waterboarding is a “minor” form and “we should go much stronger than waterboarding.”  He would condone Russian aggression, dismantle the nuclear agreement with Iran, ignore North Korea’s progress toward nuclear weapons and instead encourage Japan to develop them.  In the last few days of the campaign, his staff managed to block him from using his Twitter account.  If a man can’t be trusted not to dash off stupid tweets, he should not be trusted with the nuclear codes that could in minutes set off a world holocaust.

It’s hard to say what is the worst aspect of Trump, but perhaps it’s his ignorance.  Ignoring the scientific consensus about global warming, he calls it a hoax – by China, to sabotage the US economy!  (For it to be a conspiracy, it would have to involve tens of thousands of peer-reviewed research papers by thousands of scientists in scores of countries.)  He has pledged to pull the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement, thus wrecking the nations’ perilously belated effort to stop the atmosphere from passing the tipping point toward runaway change.  This must agonize the working scientists who see the effects close up: the sickening of forests and their retreat up mountains, the accelerating extinction of species, the permafrost going up in geysers of methane, the floods and droughts as many times per decade as they used to be per century, the dying of coral in acidified seas, the expanses of open sunlight-absorbing water where there used to be sunlight-reflecting ice, and the accelerated melting of Greenland and Antarctic ice streams, each one with enough ice to raise the world ocean by three or four meters.


65 thoughts on “Wrong way, World”

  1. Jeepers, I didn’t realize it was the same thread, if that’s the right word, as the one I said I would no longer read. All I saw was a post about climate change.

  2. I wrote a piece about climate change that I think is of value. It got published in Phactum, the newsletter of the Philadelphia Association for Critical Thinking. It’s at http://www.phact.org/data/phactums/Phactum%202016-07.pdf page 28. (Please don’t disrespect the publication because of the faux Franklin quote on the cover. The editor (a friend) has been taken to task for his lack of rigor in checking quotes.)

    The piece has been called a “manifesto”. At least that’s what I call it. I’ve also invented a molecular model that’s been called “the most elegant and ingenious mechanical device ever invented” and a dinosaur poem that’s been called “the best poem about dinosaurs ever written”. I’ve also been called a better enzymologist than a Nobel-Prize-winning enzymologist. He said that, actually. Not to be taken literally but a compliment nonetheless.

    In reply to Wilk’s manifesto I wrote a letter that has not yet been published:


    This letter is in response to Howard J. Wilk’s manifesto in the July/August/September 2016 Phactum. Wilk cites politicians among the people whose opinions on climate change we should pay no attention to, and singles out some remarks of Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma. Our own former senator Rick Santorum has also had something to say on the subject. He’s been quoted as saying

    “This is what bothers me about this debate – the idea that the science is settled…Any time you hear a scientist say the science is settled, that’s political science, not real science, because no scientists in their right mind would say ever [sic] the science is settled.”

    What Senator Santorum allegedly said is not entirely stupid. Any subject about which there is settled certainty is indeed not science. If a theory can’t be falsified it’s not scientific. But what Sen. Santorum doesn’t understand is that “the science is settled” is like a short answer to a question about scientific consensus on the subject. The longer answer can be found in scientific journals and books; the theoretically longest, final answer doesn’t exist – it can’t exist.

    1. I’m confused, Mr Wilk. You said on 11/11 that you would “no longer read any comments about this subject, including replies to this [reply].” Then you go and reply to the main blog post again, humbly providing three accolades about yourself, and then say “[in] reply to Wilk’s manifesto I wrote a letter that has not yet been published” and proceed to reply to your own article in PHACTUM?

      Will the real Mr. Wilk please stand up?

      1. Oh, about replying to Wilk’s manifesto: A little humor is common in Wilk’s articles and letters in Phactum. You should read Wilk’s contributions–nobody else does. I know he’d appreciate some feedback.

  3. Hmm, exciting times await. All I can say is Obama failed. Big problems of our times still remain unresolved and for me the biggest is the humiliation and suffering of Palestinian people at the hands of ( not Jewish or Israeli people) but their leaders with the erstwhile backing of USA. As a planet we are hurtling towards irreversible climate change. Simmering war everywhere and we have a new cold war. That’s Obama’s legacy. He was the first buffoon of this century to run USA and now we may have the second ( we’ve been spared of a female version of a buffoon).

    It’s sad though that this is the best USA had on offer.

    Sad reflection of our times.

    As someone said elsewhere Jupiter is rising ( I can’t wait), to see the moon dances, while the world will gently weep for the lost children from the arms that western nations unleash on poor Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan and wherever else they can sell their arms in the name of democracy.

    Hope at the end of four years Trump will rise from his notoriety to change things for good.

    Also let’s not point the finger at Russians. Western nations created ISIS through their unbridled greed for oil during the war in Iraq. Hallelujah.
    For the moment I am hoping our PM ( for whom I have a lot of respect) will guide the country through the stormy waters. She is a decent pair of hands.

    Not sure about the USA.

    1. I try to refrain from making counter-comments, but to friend Nalin I will answer similarly as in the email correspondence we’ve just had.

      –Obama can hardly be said to have failed (he carried out as many improvements as he could against an obstructionist Congress and has an unusually high approval rating).

      –The delusion that times have never been worse is almost continual, and a good explanation of it is in the column by Michael Schermer (with whom I don’t always agree) in the November issue of Scientific American, page 77. It’s not possible to give a link, so I’m tempted to make its text available here; think I’d better not do that, but will send it by email to anyone who asks. Briefly, there are evolutionary reasons why we pay more attention to bad signals than good. In the advance of democracy, international cooperation, humanitarian aid, medical knowledge, sanitation, literacy, and on and on, the human world has never been better. I would add that, though so many trends are upward, the new thing about the last fifty years is that they are competing with, and may be overwhelmed by, the bad trends of population growth, consumption growth, and resulting environmental havoc.

      –Palestine, and its place among human rights issues, has been, since I lived in Arab Jerusalem, such a huge subject for me that I can’t embark on it here, and don’t want it to be opened as a thread here; again, if interested in my view, email me.

  4. Liberal/progressive expectations were shown by the voters to be wrong in almost every way and borderline delusional. Now there are crybaby protesters in the street who cannot believe that the coronation of HER majesty has been canceled.

    The Wikileaks pulled up the circus tent and showed the rigging beneath, as the Socialist was robbed of the nomination by the Democrat puppet masters and the leaking of debate questions by HER cronies.

    America was reminded of the Clinton years and rejected four more years of Clinton fatigue. Now, America has a new leader, although the left is still deranged with its fear mongering and hand wringing. End of story.

  5. hillary is simply a criminal, willing to do anything to increase her wealth and power. her record as sec. of state was terrible. end of conversation.
    president-elect trump will bring ” our ” country back to sanity.
    i.e. close our borders send illegal murderers and druggies back
    allow refugees to bring havoc to your country instead of our usa
    bring needed jobs back to the usa
    achieve a sensible health care system ( so that people from your
    countries with socialized medicine can still come here for
    needed care! )
    tell kids to pay for their own college
    deep six the bathroom nonsense
    get rid of obama,s cartel that did his bidding:
    (in)justice dept, fbi, irs, supreme court
    the list of insanity goes on and on with dictator obama,s executive commands forcing everything down our throats.

    now obama,s 8 year reign of terror is over, thank god- and now i can even mention god again without recrimination.

    but what do i know, being one of the uneducated ,irredeemable deplorables. ( with only eleven years at juilliard)

  6. Some politicians instill terror about global warming into the populace in order to get their vote. I heard of a case earlier this week in which a father committed a murder-suicide of his family so they wouldn’t have to live through global warming. I think there’s a lot of unnecessary angst about global warming.

    I know there is a scientific consensus on man-made global warming, but that could be because if their research doesn’t support global warming, the research grants stop flowing.

    Other scientists claim that CO2 PPM can be many times higher and not produce greenhouse warming. Check out this site for references.

    1. I wanted to add that when the economy is good, society can afford more catalytic converters and smokestack scrubbers so Trump may be good for the environment.

      1. You’re correct. You’ll never find this information on a government website (at least not until January 20th).

        1. Chilling. We are threatened, are we, with top-down suppression of scientific evidence, as by the regime in Orwell’s “1984”?

          As for Business Week’s “The 10 Most-Respected Global Warming Skeptics”:

          The first is Freeman Dyson, who once spent a whole afternoon talking with me in the room I had at Furman University. I greatly admire him and his books, his ideas on peace and cultural diversity, his “Dyson spheres” and his idea about what I call the “archipelago of the asteroids”. He has written that one “of the main causes of warming is the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere resulting from our burning of fossil fuels”. But that his “objections to the global warming propaganda are not so much over the technical facts, about which I do not know much”, but over styles of presentation. He has reservations about whether the climate models developed so far (or up to 2007) are yet good enough for their predictions of future trends to be reliable.

          Bjorn Lomborg, a professor at the Copenhagen Business School, wrote a book controversial for its argument that methods proposed for counteracting climate change will not have enough effect to justify their cost. He set up a project called Copenhagen Consensus, which invites economists to come and speak for large fees.

          Myron Ebell is a public-relations professional involved in several advocacy groups whose aim is to persuade a majority of Americans that “significant uncertainties exist in climate science”.

          Kiminori Itoh, Japanese scientist: I know nothing further about him.

          Ivar Giaever shared a Nobel Prize with several others for discovering in 1958 an abstruse effect in superconductors. Now 87, he has said things like “What does it mean that the temperature has gone up 0.8 degrees Kelvin? Probably nothing.” An average increase of even 0.1° in the miles-deep atmosphere wrapping around the 8,000-mile-wide planet means an enormous amount of extra heat.

          Will Happer, another specialist physicist, was one of six who, at the 2009 conference of the American Physical Society, tried to get signatories for a petition that the society should change its position that global warming is a cause of concern. So few of the 47,000 member signed the petition that it was rejected.

          Ian Plimer, an Australian geologist, seems to be the proponent of the idea that scientists adopt a climate-alarm position so as to gain research funding. Other scientists have reviewed Plimer’s data and found it doesn’t support what he says; one of them describes him as the Climate Misinformer.

          Michael Crichton, science fiction writer and entertainer, sort-of-won a 2007 debate in New York because the scientists stuck to the science whereas he made the crowd laugh by mocking people who worry about fossil-fuel use yet fly on jet planes. He doesn’t deny that there is global warming and it is at least partly human-caused, but thinks other problems are more important.

          Alan Carlin is an economist who sent a “global warming is a hoax” letter to the Environmental Protection Agency. He is known to the public only because Senator James Imhofe alleged that this document had been suppressed. The EPA demonstrated that “Claims that this individual’s opinions were not considered or studied are entirely false” and that he “is not a scientist and was not part of the working group dealing with this issue. Nevertheless the document he submitted was reviewed by his peers and agency scientists.”

          Patrick Michaels is the only climatologist in the list. He is definitely and militantly a skeptic, his main difference from the majority being that he thinks emissions-as-usual will cause the global temperature to rise (above the pre-industrial level) by “only” between 1.3 and 3° Celsius, with a median estimate of 1.9. The projections of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are much higher, and it is generally agreed that a rise of 2° is the danger-point before which we must stop.

          1. It’s not Big Brother suppressing the information. Rather, it’s the liberal culture that pervades D.C. and academia. Nearly everyone in D.C. and academia think alike on matters of global warming, minimum wage, gay marriage, etc. Therefore, they dismiss conservatives and man made climate change deniers as too wacky to waste their time on.

            I haven’t decided yet if I believe in man made climate change. I am researching Milankovic cycles that may have predicted the current warming trend. I’m also researching Richard Lindzen, Gavin Smith and others.

          2. It may be the case that some mainstream scientists are impatient with climate skeptics to the point of rudeness: one of Freeman Dyson’s complaints is that skeptics are ostracized.

            I have a feeling that the monolithic “D.C.” is a myth. So many there think very far from alike.

            Yes, it is good to study the evidence for our beliefs – in so far as we can. Milankovic cycles – periodic changes in the Earth’s inclination and orbital eccentricity – have been used, with mixed success, to explain changes in climate over geological spans of time; as far as I know, they would predict a cooling trend starting a few thousand years ago, instead of which this trend was reversed gradually with human agriculture and sharply in very recent time.

            The scientific method is cautious: every theory has to be falsifiable by new evidence. That is science’s strength, the reason why it builds firmly, enabling the technology founded on it to furnish us with clocks, airplanes, computers, cataract implants. Nevertheless, some theories are so massively confirmed that they can be said to be “known” as true. For instance: that the Earth is not flat (confirmable by observations that even the non-scientist can make); that there are no unicorns (confirmed by absence of evidence). There are other theories that we, as non-scientists, accept without being able to confirm them ourselves, or without being able to understand the evidence for them, because we don’t have the time and training: our evidence for them is the massive literature about them from scientists, and the founding on them of much other science: for instance, the laws of thermodynamics, the expansion of the universe, the standard model of particle physics. They may be disconfirmed, or modified, in the future, but for now they are part of the truth that is “known”, in this slightly limited sense.

            The November issue of Scientific American, in response to a political season in which the voices of anti-science were so loud, devoted some pages to a selection of several major “Things we know to be true: irrefutable facts for these truth-starved times”:

            –Evolution is the only reasonable explanation for the diversity of life on Earth.

            –Homeopathy has no basis in science.

            –Climate change conspiracy theories are ludicrous.

            –Vaccines do not cause autism.

            –No credible evidence of alien visitations exists.

            (Many other fallacies are mentioned in running footnotes to the pages.)

    2. At our astronomy meeting this week two members, a doctor and a professional scientist, bemoaned a fear of the loss of scientific funding from Trump (although provided no basis). I replied that funding for their research interests could probably be increased through the reallocation of the funds that were originally bled away and funneled to man-made global warming special interests.

  7. Meanwhile, each morning now, I see Jupiter higher and higher in the eastern sky, almost feeling the earth rolling into a place that will eventually bring it into opposition. With good binoculars I can even spot a moon or two of it. It’s all good.

  8. I am troubled that the elephant in the room throughout the election process seems to have been the intractable misogyny of our culture (and, alas, our species). Issues raised over Clinton’s health and stamina were obviously meant to play on our sexist notions of female frailty. Controversy over her past political life, including the issue of the poorly managed emails, would quite likely have been more easily absorbed and dismissed by her detractors and potential supporters as the necessary baggage of a long political career, had she been male. This especially when compared to the many legal and ethical questions surrounding her opponent’s storied past. But it was easy for many to say, “She’s crooked and I won’t vote for her” rather than “She’s a woman, and I won’t vote for her.” As a nation I fear we are even more sexist than racist.

  9. I voted Libertarian because I could not, in good conscience, vote for either major candidate. But Mr. Trump won, didn’t he? He beat Mrs. Clinton fair and square, too. He won by electoral vote, by popular vote, by minority vote. He beat her and her experts at their own game, and without any political experience. He beat the polsters and the pundits and the media; he beat the odds. An extra ordinary feat, I must admit. I thought he was a bully and a buffoon, but he had the courage to stand fast and tall, and he beat all of them.

    Mrs. Clinton is not the innocent bystander, here. She is every bit the egocentric bully Mr. Trump is, and more so. Her handling of those sensitive Email accounts was somewhat less than stellar (I know, I know, no evidence of wrong doing), and her entrance into New York politics was really smooth, especially her declaration of undying love of New Yorkers and their sports teams.

    You mention the effect of Mrs. Clinton’s loss on world affairs? Tell me about what happened on her watch in Bengazi. No, no, let’s not go there, perhaps it really wasn’t her fault. She didn’t have all the facts.

    Lets not forget her ability to draw on thirty years of political presidential experience. Her husband was President Wm. Clinton, of Kosovo and Lewinski fame. And, of course President Barack Obama, of Obamacare and Mexican gun running fame, and, of course, winner of the Nobel prize in physics, was it not?

    Perhaps we should lament the loss of Mrs. Clinton’s business accumen. Her lawyer, Vincent Foster, would be able to attest to that if he were still with us. You remember Vince Foster? He was the Clinton’s business lawyer. He blew his brains out against a tree in the park near the Capitol in DC. Very tragic. Neat, too. No blood splatter. Why do you think he did it? Perhaps he forgot to drop the envelope in the collection on Sunday. Who knows?

    The world survived Teddy Roosevelt and Chester A. Arthur; it’ll survive Donald Trump. Give it a rest, guys. America has not chosen a dangerous direction, nor have we moved in the wrong direction. Just different. Get over it.

      1. Guy,reading through this article and the follow-up reviews,I am once again reminded of what my dear Mother used to always tell us.”If you want to lose a good friend-discuss politics and religion with them !.Sam

        1. Thank you, Sam. As I mentioned in my non-retraction of my comment, politics and religion are two subjects to avoid amongst friends.

      2. I heard that the Dems would round up people in the ghettos and take them to the polls to vote in exchange for $. If true, that would make the popular vote tally questionable.

        In Virginia, Clinton won the popular vote by 60,000. But that’s because the Democtats’ Get Out The Vote campaign resulted in 60,000 early voting votes for the HRC.

        1. Damn, I wanted to stay out of this, and in fact I’m bailing after this post and will no longer read any comments about this subject, including replies to this post.

          Every political organization does its best to get eligible voters who are inclined to vote its way to the polls. They have no control over how the votes are actually cast. This is not voter fraud and does not make a vote tally questionable.

        2. As an aside, the 60,000 people who pushed Clinton over the top in Virginia
          were likely the 60,000 felons to whom Terry McAulifffe – a Clinton
          henchman – restored voting rights. mmmmmm just a coincidence. I think not.

          1. Also in Virginia there was a well publicized Democrat affiliated organization’s get-out-the-vote effort that was caught registering the dead in Harrisonburg. Virginia’s win in the Hillary column is indeed tainted.

  10. Deranged – oh, yes. And he was voted in by not only the bottom-feeders of this country, but also a whop load of folks who conveniently tuned out his qualities that didn’t mesh with theirs and just went with the wishful thinking bits.

    On the other hand, we, the people, have more power than we’d often care to wield. It takes a lot of time and attention to reign in government that is constantly trying to serve its own best (perceived) interests. Those of us who do pay attention will be constantly bringing government to task, as we have been all along. We are a collective. It’s up to each of us to bring our divine or demonic, active or lethargic energy to the collective.

    Remember the original Star Trek premise…that in the 21st century, humanity almost destroyed itself through various unsustainable practices. I always liked that, when humanity recovered, one of the most important things to go was the concept of money. Everyone contributed their talents and everyone got what they needed to live. I think we’re in the “let’s all just destroy ourselves” phase right now.

    1. Calling voters for Trump “bottom feeders” after the Clinton Foundation pay-for-play is rather rich. You do recognize irony, I hope, but if not, rest assured you engage in it.

  11. I guess I look at the election results too simplistically. This election had two deplorable candidates. Trump won by default because the voters repudiated Clinton. While Guy listed her cirriculum vitae, he didn’t list her accomplishments because, after years of “public service” her principal accomplishment was to enrich the coffers of the Clinton Foundation by selling access to power. If nothing else, I hope Trump succeeds in “draining the swamp”.

    1. Draining the swamp reminds me of a quote someone once said about ‘let me not forget that my original purpose was to drain the swamp when I’m up to my a** in alligators’

  12. Alas, it would appear from the comments here that there will be no more need for astronomy!
    The sky is clearly fallen!
    The celestial orbs have stayed in their rotation!
    Gravity is upended!
    All creation is undone!
    No longer is there hope that “desire and will” may be moved “by the Love that moves the sun and other stars” (Paradiso, 33:143-145).*

    Please, ya’ll, it is one election and the USA survived Bill, George, and Barack. So did the world. I rather think we’ll all survive Trump as well as we would have survived Hilary.

    So much angst! Schadenfreude!

    For your amusement, recollect those bygone days of March, 2016, when we heard this …
    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/complete-guide-fleeing-president-donald-trump-america-article-1.2549397 … Pack lightly, pack warmly, and don’t forget your travel documents to LEGALLY enter. Canada has rules, you know.

    Caveat* Inferno, 34:138-139 “It was from there that we emerged, to see – once more – the stars.”
    Purgatorio, 33:144-145 “renewed …, I was pure and prepared to climb unto the stars.”

  13. I’m sorry, world. I don’t understand either.

    – A very sad American and her family.

  14. Without a doubt, strong passions all around, on both sides of the spectrum. I’m not going to comment on the election here, but I did want to (somewhere on this blog) register my appreciation for Guy’s gradually increasing content under the AC 2017 link. I was able to use the Uranus / Neptune maps to located Uranus on a recent image I took of the planet’s location in Pisces:
    Unfortunately, it’s a horrible image, due to the telescope on which my camera was mounted being bumped in some way that I don’t remember, and the light pollution which rendered the sky a sickly brown color. By the way, there are some very nice low-power doubles, including Zeta Piscium, in this area of the sky. And even with my cheap 100mm achromat, I was able to detect that Uranus looks non-stellar.
    The stars and night sky will still be there no matter what happens in the realm of politics.

    1. Thank you, Eric David, and thank you, Guy Ottewell, for continuing to support our enthusiasm for the sky above us.

    2. Thanks, Eric, for steering us back on track. Your photos aren’t really as bad as you put them up to be, as anyone who’s seen these planets realize they’re really not more than just specks of light, even through the highest power telescopes I’ve ever looked through anyway.

  15. The only possible silver lining is that this national catharsis will purge the vacuous ideas of republicanism from the body politic. They control both houses and the presidency so there is no one to blame when it all goes wrong.
    All those useful idiots who voted from Trump will end up poorer and sicker, and the rich will enjoy the tax breaks and invest abroad and get richer. Maybe just maybe four years from now a bit of reason might prevail.

    1. I love your optimism, but it will take two decades to recover from the conservative direction the Supreme Court will take. In the meantime, many, many people will be suffering.

  16. It’s a tough one. Obviously, the poster is trying to make a statement, but at the expense of us casual (and age unverified) readers. It’s Guy’s blog. It’s his thing to do what he wants with. But by far, the easiest thing to do is to decide to follow his own ground rules, which I clearly think apply here.

    From http://universalworkshop.com/guysblog/2016/10/01/ground-rules/:

    Thirdly: No racist polemic. By that I mean language that attacks the whole of, or a majority of, the members of an ethnic or religious subset of humanity, using clearly derogatory words and aimed at provoking hatred and hostile action.

    There are harmless jokes and generalizations about a race, tribe, denomination, country, district, gender, or age-cohort that can’t be forbidden. But if you say that a set of people numbering in the millions is stupid, ignorant, superstitious, filthy, and criminal, that is racist polemic.

    1. Agreed its a tough one. However the poster did not directly say that a set of people numbering in the millions is stupid… etc. You are simply inferring that from reading who they elected.

    1. Yes, interesting, though I tend to react against prose that bangs on about “the elites” (18 times in this piece) and has an unrelieved tone of caricature, all in abstract words.

  17. Perhaps you should have moderated Mr. Gambino’s foul tirade. I seem not to be the only person offended by it…

  18. I almost couldn’t believe it myself as I saw the results pouring in, but maybe, after 30 yrs of [Clinton]’s reign, leaving US in no better state than when she started, maybe Amerika is ready for a change. Maybe what we need is Black lesbian Muslim woman to run. Run US into the ground. God Bless (and help) Amerika.
    [unacceptable word replaced by moderator]

    1. Completely aside from anyone’s opinions about Hillary Clinton and the state of American democracy, I find the epithet in Jack’s comment offensive and inappropriate. I believe it should either be change or deleted.

      1. Let me edit that last sentence: I believe Jack’s comment should be either changed or deleted. Sorry, I’m a bit worked up right now.

        1. Anthony, sorry, but the word you found so offensive was a simple slip of spoonerism that just happened one day in conversation and it kind of stuck. Like the difference between a bad marksman and a constipated owl: One shoots and shoots and never hits, the other, well, I’ll leave the rest to you.

      2. I think I should leave it to Jack to decide whether he wants to apologize, explain, or change. It might stand as evidence of the sort of joke politicians, or eminent women, have to live with.

        1. If someone used a racist epithet to refer to President Obama, would you leave it up as an instructive example?

          1. My question was not merely rhetorical. Why, when you have stated that denigration of any class of people is unacceptable on your blog, are you allowing a presidential candidate to be referred to as genitalia? This is deeply offensive, and I am trying to understand why it’s okay with you.

          2. This is, as Yuri said, a tough call, and I wish I hadn’t been forced by one previous objectionable comment to “unapprove” it and therefore try to frame a workable “ground rule”.
            I also rather regret that, back then, when the maker of that comment responded by apologizing, I gave him the option of leaving this second comment “unapproved” because it would reveal his identity, and he decided to accept that. If it were not for this, you might see a difference between the two occasions. The first was the pasting in of someone else’s long diatribe against all Muslims in Europe, replete with accusatory generalizations. The second is a puerile rude word alluding to an individual woman.
            I think one reason I don’t feel it needs to be censored in our context is that if someone called me a “prick”, or devised a supposedly witty punning equivalent out of my own name, I wouldn’t censor it.
            I also feel one has to take into account the person. Jack is a harmless clown. That’s all I’ll say unless he comes out of hiding and says whether he’d on consideration like me to censor his comment.

          3. I decided that I agree; wrote privately yesterday to Jack, who had been silent since his comment aroused this side-debate; haven’t yet heard back from him, but will delete or overwrite his offensive word, when I can find it (it’s now so deep in this branching system that I can’t yet even find it). Thus history will be without record of his witticism.

          4. Guy,

            You are well within your rights to post whatever you want on your blog. You are also well within your rights to censor or not censor people’s responses.

            However, I came here to learn more from your vast knowledge of astronomy, physics, art, and history; not to watch you wax or wane political.

            I’m unsubscribing from further notifications about this thread, and will be unsubscribing from your blog until Mercury is at its greatest eastern elongation next.

          5. Thanks Guy for your considered reply. I’m sorry you have to deal with this, and I’m sorry to keep hectoring you.

            I think that there is a fundamental difference between calling a man a prick and referring to a woman by her genitalia. The difference is that we live in a sexist and misogynistic culture. If you call me a prick, you’re not invalidating my worth as a human being and reducing my existence to an appendage, you’re just saying that you’re irritated with me. Especially in light of Trump’s comments about women, Jack’s epithet has a completely different and more harmful valence, whether that was his intention or not.

            I’ve made my point as well as I’m able and I will step down from my soapbox now.

        2. I apologize if my comment offends anyone but as this blog seems to have strayed from astronomy and become a place to air political views, and as everyone else has shared theirs, I think it’s only right that I share mine. I tried making it as humorous as I could. If you can’t find the humor in everything, how can you find the humor in anything?Two subjects to avoid with kith and kin are religion and politics. Poly=many: ticks=bloodsucking arachids. Lighten up folks, and let’s get back to astronomy.

        3. I see you haven’t and change the name anyway. Doesn’t anyone understand spoonerisms? May I sew you to a sheet and explain?

    2. Clearly you believe every lie the Republican Party has been telling about Hillary Clinton. And you certainly have an inflated idea of what the junior senator from New York was able to accomplish in her tenure. I think The Donald is just the president for you: lies, incoherence and ignorance.

  19. Please unsubscribe me from future e-mailings.
    I subscribed because, until now, I was a fan of your publications.

    I don’t need rants in my e-mail, thank you very much.

    1. I believe that I cannot unsubscribe you and you have to do it yourself. At the bottom of the email (not the blog post) you should see an “Unsubscribe” button.

    2. I agree,, but I still won’t unsubscribe…. If Guy wants to hear us, Let him hear.
      I just wish he’d avoid politics and stick to astronomy,,, I think that what’s drawn most of us to this blog in the first place.

  20. Today is worse than 9/11 for the country and the world. I’m depressed and disgusted. Just one thing: Japan should develop nuclear weapons. South Korea too.

    1. Howard, How DARE you say this day is worse the 9/11. Have you lost any friends when the towers crumble? I have. She was on the phone with my neighbor when the phone went dead, as so did she. Please, don’t compare this election result with such a more tragic event

  21. And yet, we can do nothing about it except wait for him to make an impeachable mistake, die, or try to do something different in 4 years. Such is the life of politics.

Leave a Reply to Guy Cancel reply