The revenge trap

It is becoming increasingly clear that Donald Trump is smarting from his performance in the first debate. Initially, just after the debate, he seemed to think he had done pretty well, praising the moderator Lester Holt for doing a great job. This is not unusual for people like Trump who are so wrapped up in themselves that they do not realize how others see them until they are told, and even then dismissing any suggestion that they were less than excellent. But the fact that there was near unanimity that he was handed his hat by Hillary Clinton has sunk in and definitely got under his skin and he has started lashing out, calling the moderator biased, renewing his attacks on Alicia Machado, and even bizarrely suggesting that someone had tampered with his microphone.
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How to go from deism to your particular religion in eight easy steps

As I wrote in an earlier post on deism, theism and atheism, genuine deists are rarely to be found these days. Deism requires people to not affiliate themselves with any particular manifestation of religion. While sophisticated religious apologists these days will often use deistic arguments because they are the most intellectually defensible, these people are also usually affiliated with this or that particular religion and thus have to somehow make the transition from deism to theism.
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Donald Trump’s weight problem

I do not mean that Donald Trump himself is overweight but that he seems to have an almost visceral dislike of people who are over the conventional norms of weight. For example, he is like an adolescent in the way he rates women’s looks but he reserves his most vicious attacks for people like Rosie O’Donnell whom he has at various times referred to as “a woman out of control,” a “true loser,” a “total train wreck,” “disgusting,” a “slob,” “fat, ugly” “.
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Other reactions to the debate

I have had the luxury of reading what others are saying about the debate. Steven Rosenfeld said that the debate was a condensed form of what has been playing out in the campaign. Amy Davidson said that came off as a bully who failed in his attempt at intimidation. Adele M. Stan said that Clinton managed to expose Trump’s “racism, sexism and venality” and compared it the Billy Jean King-Bobby Riggs encounter.
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Reflections on the first debate: Trump loses badly

I will not go into details on the first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. There are many detailed analyses online with a transcript here, and Tessa Stuart provides transcripts of the main exchanges. But in my view, Clinton easily got the better of Trump. It was clear that she had resisted the suggestions that she try and show a warm, personal side in order to counter the perception that she is cold and not trustworthy. Instead she went with her strengths, which is policy wonkery presented in a calm and collected way and combined it with deft needling of Trump that got increasingly under his skin as the evening wore on. It was a masterful performance on her part.
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Who is worse: someone who lies or someone who is utterly unconcerned about the truth?

This question came to my mind in the most recent case where Donald Trump, trying to make the case that the media and the debates are rigged against him, said that tonight’s moderator NBC news anchor Lester Holt was a Democrat though in fact he is a registered Republican. When Trump’s manager Kellyanne Conway was asked why Trump lied about this, she replied, that Trump didn’t lie because “a lie would mean that he knew the man’s party registration” when in fact he didn’t know.
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The coming of age of the atheist movement

(This is the text of the talk that I gave to the Sunday Assembly yesterday. These Assemblies are monthly gatherings of generally secular people who meet for fellowship and to engage in activities to further social good.)

When Mark passed on the invitation to me to be the speaker at this second anniversary of the Sunday Assembly, I was honored, just as I was to be asked to speak at the inaugural event. But I was also surprised that two years had passed by so fast! The Sunday Assembly has reached the toddler stage in just the blink of an eye and has reached the stage of throwing things around.

That sense of the growth and evolution of the Sunday Assembly is what made me think about what I would talk about and why I chose ‘the coming of age of the atheist movement’ as my theme for today’s (dare I say it?) sermon. As a former ordained lay minister in the Methodist church I am used to giving long sermons but don’t worry, I will not subject you to the half-hour or more diatribes that are common in that church.
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