comparisons with other lists

From: Spike Jones (
Date: Sun Aug 05 2001 - 22:36:22 MDT

> > We could even make the dry paintballs out of some material that
> > would be devoured by the local fauna... spike
> >
> James Rogers wrote:
> Chalk filled munitions have already been invented, and for small arms, they
> are called Simunitions... The military has been using chalk munitions for
> years...

Well, damn. There is nothing new under the sun, it seems. My attempt to
inject a bit of lightheartedness into a difficult discussion has failed. {8-[

I have listened quietly to these threads that have waded into the treacherous
waters of racism, and I have a few insights to offer. Altho extropians is
my favorite list, I participate in six others. As it turns out, the other
also choke on the same issues that we have found so difficult here. Do
allow me to expound.

To compare and contrast, extropians contains some of the deepest and most
well thought out posts of any list I have ever found. Extropians is also a
3 sigma case in the harshness of some of the posts. As we all know, the
vitriol sometimes gets extreme. Of all the lists, extropians seems to be
the most tolerant of off-topic discussions. That being said, we fearlessly
deal with some very difficult topics here, racism being a prime example.

The chess use group I once frequented was all very polite, kind and
gentle, until the day a few years ago that the first black man achieved
the noble rank of grandmaster. Someone called attention to the fact,
and commented that this is something for which the black race can
be very proud, etc. Then someone else commented that this man
should be congratulated upon reaching this rarified rank, something
that many of us strive for all our lives and damn few achieve, without
reference to his race. Then all hell broke loose, on a list which had
never suffered a loose hell before. Quite disturbing. Of course it was
not long before the same list suffered a sexism loose-hell, because
someone observed that of the top 100 chess players in the world,
only one, the awesome Judit Polgar, was female.

A British motorcycle list, of all things, tripped over privacy/openness
issues. That list is about 3/4 Brits, bonney lads all, kind and gentle,
sharing information, trading parts, etc. Someone mentioned those traffic
cameras that were going up everywhere on the Islands, pretty soon
world war 3 broke out there.

A mathematics list I frequent carefully skirted the issue after someone
observed that the mathematics conferences were nearly all male and
lilly white. A few harsh words were exchanged, the only example of
such I have ever seen on that list.

The regular posters on this list are all people I consider my friends,
even those who piss me off on a regular basis. It is painful to see
harsh words and attacks exchanged. I acknowledge that I am one
who clowns around a lot on the extropians list, so perhaps my
exhortations are less compelling than they would otherwise be.

I have concluded that there are a few hot-button issues which people
generally approach without open minds asking questions, but
rather with preconceived notions, seeking confirmation. To those who
have decided to handle the racism issues and the other difficult ones,
do examine your own beliefs beforehand, and determine if you are
bringing to the table any preconceived notions, implanted perhaps
before you had any memetic immunity. I know I have these, thus
my reluctance to comment. Two examples of preconceived notions
would be 1) all people are born equal and 2) all people are born

Racism is an issue that has many unanswered questions and should
be dealt with, but do handle these issues carefully. spike

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