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Postby Melendwyr » 05 Dec 2006, 17:19

I'd love to see you guys do a version of this play. It'd be awesome. Maybe you could use that penis costume you have stashed behind Graham's bed.
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Postby The Hitman » 05 Dec 2006, 21:32

blackdragontaz wrote:For example this sun argument we have here. Scientists have proven Earth circles sun by watching "the big picture" (aka the universe) and not just our little dirt ball and found out that it does indeed revolve around our systems central mass and not vice versa. On the other hand, these wak-jobs thinking the sun revolves Earth theory could say "1. I stand on the Earth. 2. Sun starts on one side and slowly moves to the other side. 3. Earth being round means the sun goes around us (Earth). 4. Stars also follow similar pattern. 5. So everything revolves Earth."


You should really rid yourself of this kind of logic while you still can, because it's both extremely useless and highly misleading.

The problem is, everything revolves around everything else for any given definition of 'thing' and 'revolves.' It's a tendency for the non-scientifically inclined to embrace these kind of word games as something mind-blowing and fantastical, when really it's just a rudimentary logic exercise which proves nothing about anything.

Meaning lends, well... meaning to language. If you rob words of their meaning expressely to make them look bizarre in another context, you can't suddenly bait and switch and expect the original meaning to apply to whatever bizarre construct you've assembled.

So, yes, if you redefine all the nouns and verbs you're using, you can make a true statement out of any collection of words, but only because you've robbed them of what made them meaningful in the first place.

Edit: As an addendum, I'm vaguely aware that relativity states that no frame of reference is absolute. Do we have any physics students around who could explain things more fully in context?
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Postby Lord Chrusher » 06 Dec 2006, 02:18

Did someone call for a physics student?

Proving the earth goes around the sun several ways. Warning this is long!

We must make some assumptions. First the laws of physics are the same every where. Secondly there are some objects that are so far away like galaxies they do not appear to move at all.

Taking stars to be relatively static the Sun makes a nice circle through the sky, moving at a constant speed. (The fastest stars move across the sky is 10 arc seconds a year; the Sun moves across the sky at a little under a degree a day.) The Moon also makes a nice circle in the sky, moving with constant speed. The planets also move across the sky along the same circle as the sun. You could guess as did Ptolemy that everything goes around the Earth in concentric circles but you would be wrong.

The planets do not move at constant speeds as seen from Earth. Planets will slow down, stop and reverse direction. While you can keep the Earth at the center you must make the orbits quite complicated and use several circles. Using a telescope you can observe that Venus has phases like those of the Moon, where one side of the planet illuminated by the sun and the other side is in its shadow. From the alignment of these phases it appears that Venus orbits the Sun. Again you can develop a model that has Venus going around the Sun going around the Earth but it is quite complex.

One can use geometry to find the relative distances to the planets. While the distance to between a planet and earth will change, the distance between the planet and the sun is nearly constant, indicating that the planets orbit the sun. If you take the square of the period of time it takes a planet to return to the same place relative to the (almost) static stars and take the cube of the distance from the planet to the sun for each of the planets including earth you will see that square of the period is directly proportional to the cube of the distance. This is Kepler's third law of planetary motion. As the orbital period appears to be related to the distance to the sun rather than to the earth there is more evidence that the planets and the earth go around the sun.

As well motion of the earth can be observed from stars apparent motion. First is the effect of aberration. Light has a finite speed which can be measured in the lab. If you are moving perpendicular to incoming light you will observe that the light source will lag behind were it would be had there not been any motion. Aberration is observed which is consistent with the motion of the Earth about the Sun.

Second is the effect of parallax. Hold you thump at arms length. Close one eye, then open it and close the other. Your thump will appear to jump back and forth relative to the background. If a star is close enough it will move back and forth as the earth moves around the sun. Stars are observed to move back and forth in a manner dependant on their distance and consistent with the Earth going around the Sun.

Thirdly is the Doppler effect. As a car drives by you the frequency of the sound changes. As it moves towards you the frequency is higher and as it moves away its frequency is lower. Since light is a wave if something is moving towards you it appears bluer and if some thing is moving away from you it appears redder. Doppler shifts are observed as the Earth moves towards and away as the Earth orbits the Sun.

There is a problem here though. Is the Earth moving or are the stars? Both are. Stars move relative to the solar system. However the motion of the earth is easily separated from the stars motion relative to the solar system since the Earth's motion is the same in all cases and repeats moving back and forth every year.

In addition you can tell that the Earth is moving in a circular orbit with out making any observations of the sky. If the Earth was moving in a straight line relative to the Sun relativity tell us that we can not tell if the Sun is moving or if the Earth is moving. However the Earth is moving in a circular orbit so it its direction is always changing so it is accelerating. Accelerations are not relative - one body is clearly acceleration and the other is not. This acceleration is very small, smaller than the effect of the Earth's own gravity and the rotation of the Earth (material for another post) but could be measured as it would point in different directions at noon and at midnight.

There is more on why the Earth should go around the Sun which I will post tomorrow.
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Postby DP » 06 Dec 2006, 18:52

Morgan wrote:i still want to know what is wrong with the materialist position.


Yeah, sorry for the delayed reply Morgan. But this message is just to say that my actual reply will be delayed even more. I will make a proper reply, probably in a week or so, after I'm done exams.

I'll also comment on this 'Sun going around the Earth' tangent. I dont think that that has been justly treated either... explaining current scientific theory kind of (well, completely) misses the point there. It was a philosophical point that was being mad by the poster-whom-I-forgot-the-name-of, not a scientific one.

And I'm not crazy, honestly.
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Postby The Hitman » 06 Dec 2006, 20:09

And it was pretty poor philosophy.
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Postby The Hitman » 06 Dec 2006, 20:16

While there are some topics for which a positivist stance can't generate any meaningful results, when it comes to matters of straight physics, you can't really question the epistemology without resorting to Hume or "maybe we're all in the matrix"-style reasoning, which is stupid and useless.

Philosophizing doesn't give you an open license to ignore logic or multiply entities beyond necessity unless you have a damn good reason.
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Postby Melendwyr » 06 Dec 2006, 20:20

The Hitman wrote:While there are some topics for which a positivist stance can't generate any meaningful results


Those are topics we identify as being meaningless themselves.

when it comes to matters of straight physics, you can't really question the epistemology without resorting to Hume or "maybe we're all in the matrix"-style reasoning, which is stupid and useless.


Not exactly, but until relevant data becomes available, such reasoning is indistinguishable in all ways from its opposite, and as a distinction cannot be discerned between the opposing possibilities, it is not a fruitful line of inquiry.

About things of which we cannot speak, we should remain silent.
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Postby The Hitman » 06 Dec 2006, 21:43

Melendwyr wrote:Those are topics we identify as being meaningless themselves.


Well, if you define them as meaningless, I guess they're meaningless by definition, aren't they?

The scientific method can't tell us a lot of things about wholly subjective fields such as ethics; it also has severe problems in fields like sociology, as attempts to apply conventional methods of data gathering generate wildly conflicting results. However, you can hardly say these are meaningless or unimportant topics.

I would consider it highly unscientific, in fact, to close off all other possible avenues of reasoning, even those which could generate results which are remotely meaningful, in the absence of anything better. While I favour skepticism, you can't just conclude that your epistemology is universally accurate by defining everything outside its domain as meaningless. I'm not saying I have an easy solution, I'm just saying that alternate methods of reasoning should be evaluated on their own merits.

Melendwyr wrote:... until relevant data becomes available, such reasoning is indistinguishable in all ways from its opposite, and as a distinction cannot be discerned between the opposing possibilities, it is not a fruitful line of inquiry.


I think you're overgeneralizing. Recall that logical positivism isn't simply unable to make statements about ideas which are unverifiable, but also about ideas which are simply not quantifiable or reduceable. Until you can demonstrate that every concept is repeatable and reduceable to basic logic, you're failing to account for a multiplicity of things.

Melendwyr wrote:About things of which we cannot speak, we should remain silent.


It's a false dilemma to state that an idea is scientifically verifiable or equivalent to its opposite. While it's true that scientifically verifiable concepts are known with a high degree of certainty, many 'things we know' have never been tested using scientific methods. Folk psychology isn't verifiable, in fact, some people would claim it doesn't really exist, but most people believe they can tell the difference between happy and angry.

The world is absolutely full of things we don't understand fully, and it's purely an assumption to believe that all of them are strictly quantifiable.
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Postby Melendwyr » 07 Dec 2006, 06:06

The Hitman wrote:The scientific method can't tell us a lot of things about wholly subjective fields such as ethics


First of all, if ethics were truly subjective, it would be meaningless. So while science wouldn't have much less to say on the subject, it wouldn't matter.

I would consider it highly unscientific, in fact, to close off all other possible avenues of reasoning


There aren't any. The scientific method is what we mean by 'reasoning'. Everything else is just a crippled form of thought.

I think you're overgeneralizing. Recall that logical positivism isn't simply unable to make statements about ideas which are unverifiable, but also about ideas which are simply not quantifiable or reduceable.


Logical positivism is incorrect. Knowledge is never a priori - it only arises as conclusions, not as assumptions. Positivism is a horse of a different color.
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Postby The Hitman » 07 Dec 2006, 10:45

A priori assumptions are a requisite for any kind of positivism, like it or not. The tenet that either empirical verification or falsifiability is a determiner for truth isn't itself based on any kind of observation.

Logical positivism wasn't in favour of a priori conclusions, it simply acknowledged that there was a axiomatic component to knowledge not grounded in observation (as I understand it, anyway, I could be mistaken). Sure, it doesn't fit, per se, but otherwise the entire line of reasoning is self-contradictory.

However, that's sort of a tangent to the original argument.

I will admit that ethics is probably not wholly subjective, being apparently based at least partially on evolved traits; however, so far it is at least one thing which does not appear reducible to Boolean values based on any understood criteria. Now, it may not be logically irreducible, it may simply be impossible for us to do so at this time with the tools available, but a strict decision on that matter is essentially faith-based reasoning.

Anyway, positivism is not equivalent to empricism and certainly not to logical reasoning. It includes a host of other assumptions about quantifiability which are not requirements of either of those things.

Your accusation of 'meaninglessness' is simply a value judgement. You're using intentionally prejudicial language to refer to something which simply falls outside the sphere of strict measurability. What I'm suggesting isn't particuarly far-fetched. I simply refuse to make the assumption that everything is functionally expressible in a reduced form as a set of independant causal connections. At the same time, I don't see the point of attaching the label of 'meaningless' to such phenomena simply based on the a priori assumption that there can be no knowledge of a thing which can't be expressed in a reduced sense.

For example, issues of consciousness are a concept of which we can possess some knowledge. We can observe that humans display signs of consciousness and rocks do not. However, consciousness is currently not reducible to a set of distinct causal relationships. Nor do we have any real evidence on whether or not it can be reduced in that sense, beyond assumption. Clearly, the statement "X is conscious" possesses some meaning, but consciousness cannot be tested empirically.

I'm entirely willing to admit that we know things which are reducible and emprically verifiable with a much higher degree of certainty than we know things which are not. I just think it's unwarranted to refer to everything else as possessing no meaning whatsoever. There is certainly a gray area there.
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Postby Melendwyr » 07 Dec 2006, 15:21

The Hitman wrote:A priori assumptions are a requisite for any kind of positivism, like it or not.


Yes, but that wasn't the point. The point was that they're not knowledge, which the invalid logical positivism claims they are.

The tenet that either empirical verification or falsifiability is a determiner for truth isn't itself based on any kind of observation.


Of course it is - everything we have is empirical observation.

Your accusation of 'meaninglessness' is simply a value judgement.


Wrong. No unquantifiable things exist. To assert that a thing is beyond quantification is to assert that it is beyond interaction, which puts it outside of the existence set.

However, consciousness is currently not reducible to a set of distinct causal relationships.


No, we simply don't know how to do so. If it wasn't a set of distinct causal relationships, it wouldn't exist.
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Postby The Hitman » 07 Dec 2006, 17:28

Melendwyr wrote:Wrong. No unquantifiable things exist. To assert that a thing is beyond quantification is to assert that it is beyond interaction, which puts it outside of the existence set.


If you can demonstrate that all unmeasurable things are non-interacting by definition, then this would be true. However, you've failed to do that. You simply keep repeating yourself.

Melendwyr wrote:No, we simply don't know how to do so. If it wasn't a set of distinct causal relationships, it wouldn't exist.


Quantifiability isn't implicit in causality, so this makes no logical sense. Many quantum events are not directly measurable, yet they have effects which are measurable and clearly consist of causal relationships.

In fact, the statement "We can measure everything which exists," seems a bit baseless. Do you have any evidence for suggesting that we can measure everything which exists?
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Postby The Hitman » 07 Dec 2006, 17:37

Look, all I'm really saying is that it may be possible to know of the existence of some phenomena purely as an aggregate of undifferentiable causal relationships, where the relationships themselves are either unknowable or not 'practically' decipherable by humans.

In such a case, a more abstract system of quantification, like phenomenology, may be able to reason based on concepts about which scientific laws cannot be formulated directly. This not to say that such reasoning isn't empirical, but it may not be strictly scientific.

Can some one else contribute an opinion, here? I don't really think this is an unreasonable stance.
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Postby Melendwyr » 07 Dec 2006, 17:42

The Hitman wrote:If you can demonstrate that all unmeasurable things are non-interacting by definition, then this would be true.


If there's an effect, it can be measured - the same way we measure any particular thing.

Quantifiability isn't implicit in causality, so this makes no logical sense.


It's implicit in existence, a category in which causality is at least sometimes present.

Many quantum events are not directly measurable, yet they have effects which are measurable and clearly consist of causal relationships.


Occam's razor, dude. Quantum events that aren't directly measurable are most efficiently modeled in terms of events that ARE.
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Postby The Hitman » 07 Dec 2006, 19:33

Melendwyr wrote:If there's an effect, it can be measured - the same way we measure any particular thing.


This includes ethical values? Consciousness? Behavior analysis independant of socialization?

If so, please tell me how one measures these things, because I am dying to know and so is the rest of the world.

Some really rad dude wrote:Quantifiability isn't implicit in causality, so this makes no logical sense.


Melendwyr wrote:It's implicit in existence, a category in which causality is at least sometimes present.


Your only proof for this conclusion is this conclusion. This is what we call circular reasoning.

Melendwyr wrote:Occam's razor, dude. Quantum events that aren't directly measurable are most efficiently modeled in terms of events that ARE.


I really don't see what that has to do with Occam's razor. Anyway, my point was about direct measurement, not abstract models, so that's sort of irrelevant.
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Postby Melendwyr » 07 Dec 2006, 19:40

The Hitman wrote:I really don't see what that has to do with Occam's razor. Anyway, my point was about direct measurement, not abstract models, so that's sort of irrelevant.


I think we've found the source of the problem. Trying to talk about measurement while ignoring models is impossible.
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Postby The Hitman » 07 Dec 2006, 20:09

Well, obviously concepts that can't be measured can't be modelled either. I figured that was kind of a given.

However, you can still construct statements which can be evaluated for true and false about subjects which cannot be accurately modelled! That was sort of, you know, my point.

Anyway, what happened to the critique on materialism?
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Postby Melendwyr » 08 Dec 2006, 05:43

The Hitman wrote:Well, obviously concepts that can't be measured can't be modelled either. I figured that was kind of a given.


And that means that they cannot consist of a set of interactions, because a model can be constructed of any arbitrary set of interactions. If they're not a set of interactions, they don't exist.

Badda bing, badda boom!

Anyway, what happened to the critique on materialism?


We considered the opposing position to be so silly there was no point in discussing it.
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Postby The Hitman » 08 Dec 2006, 11:01

Melendwyr wrote:And that means that they cannot consist of a set of interactions, because a model can be constructed of any arbitrary set of interactions. If they're not a set of interactions, they don't exist.

Badda bing, badda boom!


The problem is, I still don't find it self-evident that any interaction or set of interactions is automagically knowable by humans, which is sort of our point of debate. However, we're kind of arguing in circles now, so I really suggest we call it a day.

The Hitman, champion of keeping it real wrote:Anyway, what happened to the critique on materialism?


Melendwyr wrote:We considered the opposing position to be so silly there was no point in discussing it.


Yes, but I don't really carry the preconceived notion that I have considered every argument in existence, and I have been wrong before, so I wouldn't mind hearing what he has to say.
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Postby Melendwyr » 08 Dec 2006, 11:23

The Hitman wrote:The problem is, I still don't find it self-evident that any interaction or set of interactions is automagically knowable by humans, which is sort of our point of debate.


There's more of the problem: that's not the point of debate.

However, we're kind of arguing in circles now, so I really suggest we call it a day.


No, you're wandering in circles. I made it to the finish line ages ago and am now enjoying a tall frosty boot of ice cream.

Yes, but I don't really carry the preconceived notion that I have considered every argument in existence, and I have been wrong before, so I wouldn't mind hearing what he has to say.


That's interesting, because all arguments which purport to demonstrate untrue positions are invalid.

Unless of course you're a professional philosopher, in which case the ability to distinguish between sense and nonsense isn't likely to be high on your list of valued intellectual skills.
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Postby The Hitman » 08 Dec 2006, 12:27

Melendwyr wrote:There's more of the problem: that's not the point of debate.


Actually, my main issue with positivism is its dependence on reductionism, which I have some issues with. If you recall, this came up originally because I mentioned that some things may be outside the realm of positivist evaluation. That was my reasoning. You disagreed. I'm pretty sure that's what a debate is.

Melendwyr wrote:That's interesting, because all arguments which purport to demonstrate untrue positions are invalid.


So materialism is unfalsifiable? Otherwise, why wouldn't you want to hear potential arguments against it? I personally have never observed anything not made of matter, and that would seem to be the simplest direct falsification of materialism, but I would also be willing to accept that the theory itself is predicated on assumptions which are debatable and which I have simply never thought of, in which case, while its conclusions might be true, they wouldn't necessarily be true from my starting assumptions.

I'd also like to point out that argumentative validity is completely separate from truth. As long as an argument with true premises has a true conclusion, it's valid, regardless of whether or not the premises themselves are actually true in the real world. So your above statement is, in fact, false.

Melendwyr wrote:Unless of course you're a professional philosopher, in which case the ability to distinguish between sense and nonsense isn't likely to be high on your list of valued intellectual skills.


You know, you're getting very excited about this. Maybe you should put down the internet and take it easy for a bit.
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Postby Melendwyr » 08 Dec 2006, 15:40

The Hitman wrote:Actually, my main issue with positivism is its dependence on reductionism, which I have some issues with.


Because of course you perceive all of reality as a single, undifferentiated gestalt, a wholeness that your physiology doesn't break down into distinct bits of data and use to generate a mental model complete with artificial boundaries!

So materialism is unfalsifiable?


It's infinitely extendable because it's based on an open-ended definition. Nothing can be observed outside of it, because if we find something new that previous experiences didn't show us, the listing of 'material' things just gets longer. The only things excluded are those things that violate the definition of 'material'.

I'd also like to point out that argumentative validity is completely separate from truth. As long as an argument with true premises has a true conclusion, it's valid, regardless of whether or not the premises themselves are actually true in the real world. So your above statement is, in fact, false.


But the premises involved contradict the facile and superfical arguments being put forward. So they're not only false, but invalid as well!
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Postby The Hitman » 08 Dec 2006, 18:00

Melendwyr wrote:Because of course you perceive all of reality as a single, undifferentiated gestalt, a wholeness that your physiology doesn't break down into distinct bits of data and use to generate a mental model complete with artificial boundaries!


False dilemma. I can think some things are not functionally reducible without believing nothing is functionally reducible.

Melendwyr wrote:Nothing can be observed outside of it


Melendwyr wrote:The only things excluded are those things that violate the definition of 'material'.


Self-contradictory, pick one and stick with it. I'd also add that a category which encompasses everything isn't useful.

Melendwyr wrote:But the premises involved contradict the facile and superfical arguments being put forward. So they're not only false, but invalid as well!


You clearly don't understand the logical definition of validity. I recommend a first year logic course.
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Postby Melendwyr » 08 Dec 2006, 18:08

Self-contradictory, pick one and stick with it.


Those points aren't contradictory at all. Nothing can be observed outside the material world because the definition of 'material' can and will be extended whenever we make new observations.

You clearly don't understand the logical definition of validity. I recommend a first year logic course.


Well, now we're stuck in a bit of a pickle, here. I don't really have many techniques for dealing with people who are educated enough to correctly note the formal definition of logical validity, yet too dumb to realize that when applying logic in the real world, any premises that lead to an untrue conclusion are necessarily wrong, rendering the argument as a whole invalid even while the relationship of the conclusion to the premises may be valid.
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Postby The Hitman » 08 Dec 2006, 19:02

Melendwyr wrote:Those points aren't contradictory at all. Nothing can be observed outside the material world because the definition of 'material' can and will be extended whenever we make new observations.


Oh, I see what you mean. That's not really self-contradictory, but it's false in any case.

Systems of dualism and idealism are outside the definition of materialism, because they're epistemic in nature and not based on observation of physical qualities. I don't find them compelling, as I see no reason to believe why things I see should exist only in my mind or why materialistic and idealistic things should coexist for some reason, but it's not actually impossible to conceive of systems outside of materialism, as far as I know.

Aside from epistemic conditions, would you consider flagrant violations of the laws of physics to violate materialism? Hypothetically, if God descended from the heavens amidst choirs of angels and played a wicked guitar solo, or if it turned out that there was a guy named Steve who was personally exempt from local causality, would you still consider materialism to be a valid philosophy?

This is kind of a sidenote, but what good would a philosophy be if it included every possible concept? It would be impossible to falsify and therefore meaningless by your own definition.

As far as I understand it, materialism does require some scientific tenets like the universality of physical laws and such, which means the existence of an entirely localized phenomenon would be an observable phenomenon which was outside the classification of materialism. Of course, there's no reason to assume such a thing could exist, considering we've never seen one, but hypothetically you could consider it as a condition under which materialism would be invalid, in which case it's not tautological.

Melendwyr wrote:Well, now we're stuck in a bit of a pickle, here. I don't really have many techniques for dealing with people who are educated enough to correctly note the formal definition of logical validity, yet too dumb to realize that when applying logic in the real world, any premises that lead to an untrue conclusion are necessarily wrong, rendering the argument as a whole invalid even while the relationship of the conclusion to the premises may be valid.


That doesn't make any sense. You're saying that an argument may be invalid even if it is valid? Validity isn't related at all to the truth or falsehood of the premises. The definition of a valid argument is one where a true premise leads, by necessity, to a true conclusion. Anyway, this is tangental.
"Just another Sunday paddleboat ride on a man-made lake with another lady stranger; if I remain lost and die on a cross, at least i wasn't born in a manger."

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