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O&I Statement of Purpose and Intent

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NOTICE ~ Owl & Ibis resumed meetings via Zoom with international participation on August 29, 2020. See "Cultural Appropriation" post below for a description of that restart meeting. The Confluence will now meet once monthly on the last Saturday of each month between 4:00 - 6:00PM, Eastern US Time. If you would like to attend, please send me an email at lassiterje@hotmail.com. - Jim Lassiter }:> & ~:) BACKGROUND I initiated Owl & Ibis - A Confluence of Minds as a private critical thinker club in mid-2013. On September 22, 2015 I made it public as an open-to-all freethinker online forum and in-person gathering. In late 2017 I changed the forum for O&I posts and comments from a Facebook page to this blog. Owl & Ibis - A Confluence of Minds is a secular, humanist, free-thinker discussion group. There are no membership requirements and all are welcome. Prior to 2020, meetings were held on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month fr

Politics and Knowledge in the Nihilistic Days of 1920 and 2020 - An O&I Presentation by Richard Moore

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Kudos and many thanks to Richard Moore for his presentation, "Politics and Knowledge in the Nihilistic Days of 1920 and 2020!" A link to the PDF of Richard's Saturday, March 27, 2021 slideshow can be downloaded  here . Here is Richard's presentation hypothesis: Since before and after the written word, Sapiens have repeatedly found themselves in Threatening Times and have reached back to their Elders for guidance. The options chosen by the Elders have been Finite for each of their pending Disasters and may be a helpful guide for each Future Generation. Following his introductory slideshow, Richard aired a portion of the video of UC Berkeley political theory professor Wendy Brown's lecture, Politics and Knowledge in Nihilistic Times: Thinking with Max Weber - "Knowledge." This lecture may be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXm_0DxoS_k&t=3858s Key within Brown's lecture was her view of the role of education and the use of knowledge. Brow

The Evolution of Governance

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Somebody is lying as to what is really in President Biden’s COVID stimulus plan legislation, the New York Times: “A Look at What’s in Biden’s $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Plan” New York Times , January 14, 2021. Want to get beyond the media gatekeepers? Read the 591-page bill yourself,  here . The list of the bill’s contents alone runs for nine, small print, single-space pages. Here is a sample of the text from page 10 and 11. The rest of the bill is just as crystal clear to the average US voter as this excerpt. (5) to make payments for necessary expenses related to losses of crops (including losses due to high winds or derechos) pursuant to title I of the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act, 2019 (Public Law 116–20), as amended by section 116 of the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2020 (Public Law 116–59) and as further Amended by subsection (c) of section 791 of the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 (Public Law 116–94) for crop losses in crop year 2020

Batshit Crazy: Is There a Solution to Mass Delusion? - An O&I Presentation by Pam Dewey

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  Kudos to Pam Dewey on her outstanding presentation, “Batshit Crazy – Is There a Solution to Mass Delusion?” at the February 27, 2021 meeting of Owl & Ibis – A Confluence of Minds. Here is Pam’s description of her video containing an Internet link to the video. There are several Mass Delusions currently affecting large segments of the US population: Large numbers of followers of the QAnon "complex" of multiple conspiracy theories are convinced that vast numbers of celebrities like Tom Hanks and politicians such as Hillary Clinton are part of a secret cabal that rapes babies and children, sacrifices their bodies to Satan, and drinks their blood.    A large segment of Evangelical Christians are convinced that God Himself placed Donald Trump in the presidency in 2016, as almost a Messianic figure who would not only "Make America Great Again," but would "Make America Christian Again."  A large proportion of those people along with others are als

"May You Live in Interesting Times" by John Cruickshank

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Congratulations and kudos to John Cruickshank on his January 30, 2021 Owl & Ibis presentation, "May You Live in Interesting Times!" Here is a link to a PDF of John's presentation: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1h_oWiLC2uC4j8qKTqBHEGS3TKVXlXdMg/view?usp=sharing Here's a link to the articles in John's presentation, as he promised: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/114GDOKzMTg-dwUUs2ZVxK2U6N1T5TfYG?usp=sharing The approach John took - going to the experts but engaging them in a manner that made sense to him, and in a way that challenged him to re-examine his various points of view and his overall worldview - is an approach other members of the Confluence also use. To me, this method goes to the essence of why I started O&I in the first place. There are tons of experts in the world whose ideas we could capture and display before each other. But unless we take some time and dig deeper, that is, deeper into how the experts' ideas impact and move our h

"On the Kindness of Strangers" by Steve Yothment

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  Congratulations to Steve Yothment for his highly informative presentation "On the Kindness of Strangers" at the December 26, 2020 meeting of Owl & Ibis - A Confluence of Minds. A PDF of Steve's presentation is  here  and on the O&I website menu bar under "Links to O&I Slideshows and Docs." Steve's talk highlighted the contents of the new book  The Kindness of Strangers: How a Selfish Ape Invented a New Moral Code  (2020) by psychologist Michael E. McCullough.  The after-presentation discussion was excellent and covered topics as follows, among others: Is kindness towards others including strangers instinctive, learned, or a combination of both? Various takes and examples concerning the three recurring themes in the book - reciprocity, reputation, and reason - as prime motivators for kind and altruistic behavior toward others.   Donation recipient entitlement. The problem of corruption in nations receiving international assistance from other cou

"So he professes Stoicism. Indeed. You wouldn't know it by his actions."

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  The Stoic Emblem From The  Humanist Contemplative What the Stoics Did For Us Massimo Pigliucci November 28, 2017 New Humanist When my thinking and behavior fail   me in my estimation and what I infer to be the estimation of others I care about, as well as those for whom I don't give a fig, Stoicism has not failed me nor have I failed Stoicism. The Stoic lifeway does not promise perfect thinking or consistent happiness for attempting the thoughts and acts it guides us toward. Nor does it offer eternal life or reincarnation as a 'higher' life form upon our death as rewards for our Earthly efforts, as some large and small religions do. It is my self evaluator, my conscience, that has failed me due to my misapplication of it or its miscalibration of focus or tolerance. The miscalibration of one's conscience is a problem both long-standing and something inherently human - a tendency to go out of calibration from time to time from any number of causes. As for my estimation

"Confirmation Bias/My Side Bias" by Ed Outlaw

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Kudos to Ed Outlaw for his superb November 28, 2020 Owl and Ibis presentation, "Confirmation Bias/My Side Bias." A PDF copy of Ed's PowerPoint presentation is available here . Ed's points of argumentation were: 1a: Confirmation Bias is common and significant in the way people think about political issues on both sides in our current politically polarized environment. 1b:This is both a cause and an effect of political polarization, leading to a cycle that perpetuates a politically divided community. 2a: Understanding one’s own Confirmation Bias can make a person’s political beliefs stronger, better-founded, and more convicted (counterintuitively). 2b: While at the same time working against political polarization.   The discussion that followed explored a number of areas. Here are a few: - Ed's points of argumentation were unopposed. - When one is objectively on the "right" side (moral high ground) of a moral, political or social issue, is one a victim of

"Our Responsibility for Climate Change Induced Migration" by Doug Nichols

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Kudos to Doug Nichols on his Saturday, October 31, 2020, Owl & Ibis – A Confluence of Minds presentation, “Our Responsibility for Climate Change Induced Migration.” In his multi-media presentation Doug began by focusing on human population growth and the increase of harmful climate change since the Industrial Revolution. He then informed the Confluence of the unintended consequences of these two major demographic and ecological transformations on human migration; and the ensuing impact of migration on the world’s political, economic, and existential present and future. A stimulating discussion followed where many facets of migration and climate change were explored. Notable was unanimous agreement that what was most urgently needed, of all options most likely to succeed, were cooperative global responses versus the now trending competitive nationalistic approaches. In closing, Doug presented his point of argumentation as follows: We should demand that the United States:      1. Rej

"The Role of Museums in the 21st Century" by Ramona Leiter

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~  The British Museum ~ On September 26, 2020, Ramona Leiter gave an outstanding multimedia presentation at Owl & Ibis titled "The Role of Museums in the 21st Century." Mona expertly informed us and presented the various facets and difficulties attendant to museums, past, present, and future. Here is Mona to discuss her presentation and provide links to key elements of her talk: Hello everyone! Thank you very much to all that participated in the discussion last Saturday. I was thrilled to have a project to use my editing software, Movavi, on. Seeing things come together with the different transitions, effects etc... and how quickly I could edit it all into something that was how I envisioned it in my head was thrilling. This gives me the confidence to move on to more challenging things. As I said in the presentation I am very passionate about museums and loved working on this presentation and talking about museums with other museum lovers. It was hard to research some of

"The 2020 Twilight Zone" by Pam Dewey

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  Here are two new documentaries on the back stories of US history and current affairs most of us were not taught in school. Master researcher, social critic, author, and documentary producer, Pamela Starr Dewey, calls them DocuCommentaries though they are longer on documentary than on commentary. By that I mean Pam Dewey insists on presenting the unvarnished lesser-known facts of US history and society, then letting her audience draw their own conclusions. I recommend both her new productions very highly. Here’s Pam:   My latest DocuCommentary is now available on my  Meet MythAmerica  YouTube channel. I am starting a new "miniseries" that is called The 2020 Twilight Zone. The 2020 Twilight Zone, Episode 1: Down the Rabbit Hole In early 2020 the Lincoln Project, a group of Republicans who were totally disillusioned with the presidency of Donald Trump and wanted to prevent him from being elected to a second term, began producing and airing a series of very creative and edgy br

"Cultural Appropriation" by Jim Lassiter, August 29, 2020

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After an eight-month break, Owl & Ibis - A Confluence of Minds resumed holding meetings on August 29, 2020. This internationally attended meeting was held via Zoom. A PDF of the slideshow accompanying the meeting’s presentation may be viewed here . The recorded narration accompanying the slideshow is below. Also, readers may find links to the slideshow and narrative located in the upper left drop down menu.  The next meeting of Owl & Ibis will be held on September 26, 2020 from 4-6PM Eastern US Time. Mona Leiter will chair and present “The Role of Museums in the 21st Century.” Send me an email if you would like to join future meetings. JEL }:> & ~:) Cultural Appropriation Narration*   An Owl & Ibis – Confluence of Minds Presentation (33 minutes) Jim Lassiter August 29, 2020 SLIDE 1   In 1727, Philadelphia newspaper printer Benjamin Franklin, then 21, formed the Junto, also known as the Leather Apron Club, a group of "like minded aspiring artisans and t

"I Can't Breathe" - George Floyd

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I Can't Breathe George Floyd’s final words May 25, 2020 AVAAZ – The World in Action https://secure.avaaz.org/campaign/en/george_floyd_loc/?slideshow "It's my face man I didn't do nothing serious man please please please I can't breathe please man please somebody please man I can't breathe I can't breathe please (inaudible) man can't breathe, my face just get up I can't breathe please (inaudible) I can't breathe sh*t I will I can't move mama mama I can't my knee my nuts I'm through I'm through I'm claustrophobic my stomach hurt my neck hurts everything hurts some water or something please please I can't breathe officer don't kill me they gon' kill me man come on man I cannot breathe I cannot breathe they gon' kill me they gon kill me I can't breathe I can't breathe please sir please please please I can't breathe."

Book Review: “The Overstory” by Richard Powers

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A Review of The Overstory by Richard Powers James E. Lassiter The Overstory Richard Powers 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction Buy and read this book. Within you will find yourself as you presently are. That is, your understanding of Life and humankind’s place within it. From reading it you might also find and become a better person. Who are you now? Here are two reviews of The Overstory that reveal some of you, standing above and separate from nature: The Atlantic  called the novel "darkly optimistic" for taking the long view that humanity was doomed while trees are not. The Guardian  was mixed on the novel, claiming that Powers mostly succeeded in conjuring "narrative momentum out of thin air, again and again." (Wikipedia) Others of you stand here, within, a part of nature: Library Journal * called the book "a deep meditation on the irreparable psychic damage that manifests in our unmitigated separation from nature.” Ron Ch