Monthly Archives: November 2010

Blame it on Rio

Have you ever noticed that everyone else’s house or apartment is cleaner than yours?

That’s because your arrival is usually expected, and a certain amount of cleaning up happens before you get there. So, you experience everyone else’s home cleaned up but your own crib just the way it is.

Like China. Before everybody came over to China for the Olympics, they cleaned up their air and some other stuff. I’m not sure how they managed it. When the Olympics were in Greece, about a month or so before people started to arrive, the Greek Army showed up in Athens and surrounding communities and shot every dog they found, dragging the carcases off to who knows where. Or at least, that’s what I’m told by a reliable source on the scene. Athens has (well, had) a lot of stray dogs running around and apparently the Greek authorities thought this to be a little third-world, so they got rid of them.

And now, still years before the Olympics in Rio, authorities are cleaning house. The police and army have driven all the drug dealers into one neighborhood, killed a few of them, and are prepared to move into the “hillside slum” and do them all in, apparently along with any innocent bystanders who may be in the vicinity. It’s actually a three way stand-off at this point: The Rio police, the drug traffickers, and the international Human Rights community who is urging the authorities to avoid a massacre of the innocents.

It looks like there will be, though we can certainly hope not. And, if there is, it will be interesting to see how the international community responds. Will it be OK to attend the Olympics in Rio if, say, five or six innocent bystanders are killed during a major police action to arrest a few dozen bad guys? What about a dozen innocent bystanders? A hundred? Will it depend on how bad the bad guys are? Will it depend on how many innocent bystanders are killed by bad guy bullets vs. police bullets? Will it depend on how much TV time the funerals of the babies and others get? Is it in the interest of the Olympic Committee to a) clean up Rio and then quiet down the protests or b) avoid a human rights fiasco even if the slums stay semi-criminalized?

This makes me wonder what else is going on in Rio. This is probably not a mystery, just something I don’t know about: Is there an effort to clean up Rio as a disease party palace? What if there’s an outbreak of some nasty influenza that starts here, just before the Olympic Games? Will people avoid the Olympics if they are preceded or accompanied by a Rio Flu? Will the separation that I think is already planned between the population at large in this very densely populated city and the Olympic goers become more overt when they have to say to the visiting hordes “Don’t worry, none of our people will be let near you”?

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The Hitchens Blair Debate

The videos are below the fold to avoid flash freakout on your computer.

The question: Is Religion a Force for Good in the World?

The Pre Debate poll of the audience said no, it is not:

PRO: 22% CON:57%
UNDECIDED:21%
And 75% of those polled said they’d be willing to change their mind.

After the debate, the results of a second poll were:

POST-DEBATE
PRO: 32% CON: 68%

So, Blair: 0 Hitchens: 1

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The Fetish in relation to Skepticism

I was just glancing through the blog of Katheryn Schulz, author of Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error, a book about people who were wrong about stuff, often big stuff (for example, she talks about individuals who spent decades in jail owing to false convictions). Meantime, I’m working on posts related to the falsehoods and “Everything you know is wrong” series. And, as I do this, I’m thinking about a way in which people get things wrong that is often overlooked or, perhaps, not recognized as a specific category of irrational thinking.

This has to do with the idea of a fetish. It is likely that I’m using the word “fetish” in a different way than it is usually used in modern English parlance, so some definition is appropriate. Here’s some material from various dictionary sources:
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