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Anonymous

speaking of race...
    #1740956 - 07/23/03 01:40 PM (13 years, 6 months ago)

i thought this was interesting...

________________________________________________

Three is not enough: surprising new lessons from the controversial science of race.

Sharon Begley.

TO MOST AMERICANS RACE IS AS PLAIN AS THE COLOR of the nose on your face. Sure, some light-skinned blacks, in some neighborhoods, are taken for Italians, and some Turks are confused with Argentines. But even in the children of biracial couples, racial ancestry is writ large--in the hue of the skin and the shape of the lips, the size of the brow and the bridge of the nose. It is no harder to trace than it is to judge which basic colors in a box of Crayolas were combined to make tangerine or burnt umber. Even with racial mixing, the existence of primary races is as obvious as the existence of primary colors.

Or is it? C. Loring Brace has his own ideas about where race resides, and it isn't in skin color. if our eyes could perceive more than the superficial, we might find race in chromosome 11: there lies the gene for hemoglobin. If you divide humankind by which of two forms of the gene each person has, then equatorial Africans, Italians and Greeks fall into the "sickle-cell race"; Swedes and South Africa's Xhosas (Nelson Mandela's ethnic group) are in the healthy-hemoglobin race. Or do you prefer to group people by whether they have epicanthic eye folds, which produce the "Asian" eye? Then the !Kung San (Bushmen) belong with the Japanese and Chinese. Depending on which trait you choose to demarcate races, "you won't get anything that remotely tracks conventional [race] categories," says anthropologist Alan Goodman, dean of natural science at Hampshire College.

The notion of race is under withering attack for political and cultural reasons-not to mention practical ones like what to label the child of a Ghanaian and a Norwegian. But scientists got there first. Their doubts about the conventional racial categories--black, white, Asian--have nothing to do with a sappy "we are all the same" ideology. Just the reverse. "Human variation is very, very real," says Goodman. "But race, as a way of organizing [what we know about that variation], is incredibly simplified and bastardized." Worse, it does not come close to explaining the astounding diversity of humankind--not its origins, not its extent, not its meaning. "There is no organizing principle by which you could put 5 billion people into so few categories in a way that would tell you anything important about humankind's diversity," says Michigan's Brace, who will lay out the case against race at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

About 70 percent of cultural anthropologists, and half of physical anthropologists, reject race as a biological category, according to a 1989 survey by Central Michigan University anthropologist Leonard Lieberman and colleagues. The truths of science are not decided by majority vote, of course. Empirical evidence, woven into a theoretical whole, is what matters. The threads of the argument against the standard racial categories:

* Genes: In 1972, population biologist Richard Lewontin of Harvard University laid out the genetic case against race. Analyzing 17 genetic markers in 168 populations such as Austrians, Thais and Apaches, he found that there is more genetic difference within one race than there is between that race and another. Only 6.3 percent of the genetic differences could be explained by the individuals' belonging to different races. That is, if you pick at random any two "blacks" walking along the street, and analyze their 23 pairs of chromosomes, you will probably find that their genes have less in common than do the genes of one of them with that of a random "white" person. Last year the Human Genome Diversity Project used 1990s genetics to extend Lewontin's analysis. Its conclusion: genetic variation from one individual to another of the same race" swamps the average differences between racial groupings. The more we learn about humankind's genetic differences, says geneticist Luca Cavalli-Sforza of Stanford University, who chairs the committee that directs the biodiversity project, the more we see that they have almost nothing to do with what we call race.

* Traits: As sickle-cell "races" and epicanthic-fold "races" show, there are as many ways to group people as there are traits. That is because "racial" traits are what statisticians call non-concordant. Lack of concordance means that sorting people according to these traits produces different groupings than you get in sorting them by those (equally valid) traits. When biologist Jared Diamond of UCLA surveyed half a dozen traits for a recent issue of Discover magazine, he found that, depending on which traits you pick, you can form very surprising "races." Take the scoopedout shape of the back of the front teeth, a standard "Asian" trait. Native Americans and Swedes have these shovel-shaped incisors, too, and so would fall in the same race. Is biochemistry better? Norwegians, Arabians, north Indians and the Fulani of northern Nigeria, notes Diamond, fall into the "lactase race" (the lactase enzyme digests milk sugar). Everyone else--other Africans, Japanese, Native Americans--forms the "lactase-deprived race" (their ancestors did not drink milk from cows or goats and hence never evolved the lactase gene). How about blood types, the familiar A, B and O groups? Then Germans and New Guineans, populations that have the same percentages of each type, are in one race; Estonians and Japanese comprise a separate one for the same reason, notes anthropologist Jonathan Marks of Yale University. Depending on which traits are chosen, "we could place Swedes in the same race as either Xhosas, Fulani, the Ainu of Japan or Italians," writes Diamond.

* Subjectivity: If race is a valid biological concept, anyone in any culture should be able to look at any individual and say, Aha, you are a ... It should not be the case, as French tennis star Yannick Noah said a few years ago, that "in Africa I am white, and in France I am black" (his mother is French and his father is from Cameroon). "While biological traits give the impression that race is a biological unit of nature," says anthropologist George Armelagos of Emory University, "it remains a cultural construct. The boundaries between races depends on the classifier's own cultural norms."

* Evolution: Scholars who believe in the biological validity of race argue that the groupings reflect human prehistory. That is, populations that evolved together, and separately from others, constitute a race. This school of thought holds that blacks should all be in one race because they are descended from people who stayed on the continent where humanity began. Asians, epitomized by the Chinese, should be another race because they are the children of groups who walked north and east until they reached the Pacific. Whites of the pale, blond variety should be another because their ancestors filled Europe. Because of their appearance, these populations represent the extremes, the archetypes, of human diversity--the reds, blues and yellows from which you can make every other hue. "But if you use these archetypes as your groups you have classified only a very tiny proportion of the world's people, which is not very useful," says Marks, whose incisive new book "Human Biodiversity" (321 pages. Walter de Gruyter. $23.95) deconstructs race. "Also, as people walked out of Africa, they were differentiating along the way. Equating 'extreme' with `primordial' is not supported by history."

Often, shared traits are a sign of shared heritage--racial heritage. "Shared traits are not random," says Alice Brues, an anthropologist at the University of Colorado. "Within a continent, you of course have a number of variants [on basic traits], but some are characteristic of the larger area, too. So it's natural to look for these major divisions. It simplifies your thinking." A wide distribution of traits, however, makes them suspect as evidence of a shared heritage. The dark skin of Somalis and Ghanaians, for instance, indicates that they evolved under the same selective force (a sunny climate). But that's all it shows. It does not show that they are any more closely related, in the sense of sharing more genes, than either is to Greeks. Calling Somalis and Ghanaians "black" therefore sheds no further light on their evolutionary history and implies--wrongly--that they are more closely related to each other than either is to someone of a different "race." Similarly, the long noses of North Africans and northern Europeans reveal that they evolved in dry or cold climates (the nose moistens air before the air reaches the lungs, and longer noses moisten more air). The tall, thin bodies of Kenya's Masai evolved to dissipate heat; Eskimos evolved short, squat bodies to retain it. Calling these peoples "different races" adds nothing to that understanding.

Where did the three standard racial divisions come from? They entered the social, and scientific, consciousness during the Age of Exploration. Loring Brace doesn't think it's a coincidence that the standard races represent peoples who, as he puts it, "lived at the end of the Europeans' trade routes"--in Africa and China--in the days after Prince Henry the Navigator set sail. Before Europeans took to the seas, there was little perception of races. If villagers began to look different to an Englishman riding a horse from France to Italy and on to Greece, the change was too subtle to inspire notions of races. But if the English sailor left Lisbon Harbor and dropped anchor off the Kingdom of Niger, people looked so different he felt compelled to invent a scheme to explain the world--and, perhaps, distance himself from the Africans.

This habit of sorting the world's peoples into a small number of groups got its first scientific gloss from Swedish taxonomist Carolus Linnaeus. (Linnaeus is best known for his system of classifying living things by genus and species--Escherichia coli, Homo sapiens and the rest.) In 1758 he declared that humanity falls into four races: white (Europeans), red (Native Americans), dark (Asians) and black (Africans). Linnaeus said that Native Americans (who in the 1940s got grouped with Asians) were ruled by custom. Africans were indolent and negligent, and Europeans were inventive and gentle, said Linnaeus. Leave aside the racist undertones (not to mention the oddity of ascribing gentleness to the group that perpetrated the Crusades and Inquisition): that alone should not undermine its validity. More worrisome is that the notion and the specifics of race predate genetics, evolutionary biology and the science of human origins. With the revolutions in those fields, how is it that the 18th-century scheme of race retains its powerful hold? Consider these arguments:

* If I parachute into Nairobi, I know I'm not in Oslo: Colorado's Alice Brues uses this image to argue that denying the reality of race flies in the face of common sense. But the parachutists, if they were familiar with the great range of human diversity, could also tell that they were in Nairobi rather than Abidjan--east Africans don't look much like west Africans. They could also tell they were in Istanbul rather than Oslo, even though Turks and Norwegians are both called Caucasian.

* DOA, male, 5'11" ... black: When U.S. police call in a forensic anthropologist to identify the race of a skeleton, the scientist comes through 80 to 85 percent of the time. If race has no biological validity, how can the sleuths get it right so often? The forensic anthropologist could, with enough information about bone structure and genetic markers, identify the region from which the corpse came--south and west Africa, Southeast Asia and China, Northern add Western Europe. It just so happens that the police would call corpses from the first two countries black, from the middle two Asian, and the last pair white. But lumping these six distinct populations into three groups of two serves no biological purpose, only a social convention. The larger grouping may reflect how society views humankind's diversity, but does not explain it.

* African-Americans have more hypertension: If race is not real, how can researchers say that blacks have higher rates of infant mortality, lower rates of osteoporosis and a higher incidence of hypertension? Because a social construct can have biological effects, says epidemiologist Robert Hahn of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Consider hypertension among African-Americans. Roughly 34 percent have high blood pressure, compared with about 16 percent of whites. But William Dressler finds the greatest incidence of hypertension among blacks who are upwardly mobile achievers. "That's probably because in mundane interactions, from the bank to the grocery store, they are treated in ways that do not coincide with their self-image as respectable achievers," says Dressler, an anthropologist at the University of Alabama. "And the upwardly mobile are more likely to encounter discriminatory white culture." Lab studies show that stressful situations--like being followed in grocery stores as if you were a shoplifter--elevate blood pressure and lead to vascular changes that cause hypertension. "In this case, race captures social factors such as the experience of discrimination," says sociologist David Williams of the University of Michigan. Further evidence that hypertension has more to do with society than with biology: black Africans have among the lowest rates of hypertension in the world.

If race is not a biological explanation of hypertension, can it offer a biological explanation of something as complex as intelligence? Psychologists are among the strongest proponents of retaining the three conventional racial categories. It organizes and explains their data in the most parsimonious way, as Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein argue in "The Bell Curve." But anthropologists say that such conclusions are built on a foundation of sand. If nothing else, argues Brace, every ethnic group evolved under conditions where intelligence was a requirement for survival. If there are intelligence "genes," they must be in all ethnic groups equally: differences in intelligence must be a cultural and social artifact.

SCIENTISTS WHO doubt the biological meaningfulness of race are not nihilists. They just prefer another way Of capturing, and explaining, the great diversity of humankind. Even today most of the world's peoples marry within their own group. Intra-marriage preserves features--fleshy lips, small ears, wideset eyes--that arose by a chance genetic mutation long ago. Grouping people by geographic origins--better known as ethnicity--" is more correct both in a statistical sense and in understanding the history of human variation," says Hampshire's Goodman. Ethnicity also serves as a proxy for differences--from diet to a history of discrimination--that can have real biological and behavioral effects.

In a 1942 book, anthropologist Ashley Montagu called race "Man's Most Dangerous Myth." If it is, then our most ingenuous myth must be that we sort humankind into groups in order to understand the meaning and origin of humankind's diversity. That isn't the reason at all; a greater number of smaller groupings, like ethnicities, does a better job. The obsession with broad categories is so powerful as to seem a neurological imperative. Changing our thinking about race will require a revolution in thought as profound, and profoundly unsettling, as anything science has ever demanded. What these researchers are talking about is changing the way in which we see the world--and each other. But before that can happen, we must do more than understand the biologist's suspicions about race. We must ask science, also, why it is that we are so intent on sorting humanity into so few groups--us and Other--in the first place.


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OfflineMalachi
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Registered: 06/19/02
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Re: speaking of race... [Re: ]
    #1740962 - 07/23/03 01:44 PM (13 years, 6 months ago)

how about grouping races by sucessfully integrated ritualized religous ceremony?

those who fill the indiviuals deep seated need for spiritual (and social) communion through altered states?

opps, I got all "racist" again.


--------------------
The ultimate meaning of our being can only be fulfilled in the paradoxical leap beyond the tragic-demonic frustration. It is a leap from our side, but it is the self-surrendering presence of the Ground of Being from the other side.
- Paul Tillich


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Anonymous

Re: speaking of race... [Re: Malachi]
    #1740969 - 07/23/03 01:47 PM (13 years, 6 months ago)

i think you've been reading too much mckenna friend.


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OfflineMalachi
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Re: speaking of race... [Re: ]
    #1740987 - 07/23/03 01:55 PM (13 years, 6 months ago)

no, read the LSD documentary thread. besides, I didn't say anything about drugs so that it'd be inclusive of drumming, dancing, chanting, yoga, martial arts, etc etc etc, all creative ways of filling this need that non whities have (for the most part) failed to conceive.

true, there are a few examples in the western world, but they're always really esoteric and are seem by the mainstream as deviant. like good art.


--------------------
The ultimate meaning of our being can only be fulfilled in the paradoxical leap beyond the tragic-demonic frustration. It is a leap from our side, but it is the self-surrendering presence of the Ground of Being from the other side.
- Paul Tillich


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Anonymous

Re: speaking of race... [Re: Malachi]
    #1740991 - 07/23/03 01:57 PM (13 years, 6 months ago)

you samoans are all the same. you have no faith
in the essential decency of the white man's culture.


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OfflineMalachi
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Re: speaking of race... [Re: ]
    #1741020 - 07/23/03 02:07 PM (13 years, 6 months ago)

MY POINT EXACTLY!!!  that's the perfect quote, it's going to be my new sig.  :wink:


--------------------
The ultimate meaning of our being can only be fulfilled in the paradoxical leap beyond the tragic-demonic frustration. It is a leap from our side, but it is the self-surrendering presence of the Ground of Being from the other side.
- Paul Tillich


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Offlinefireworks_godS
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Re: speaking of race... [Re: Malachi]
    #1741026 - 07/23/03 02:09 PM (13 years, 6 months ago)

So, every different distinction between people (Norwegian, Asian, etc.) is more complexly woven than what meets the eye, that certain groups share some things in common with other groups, but share other things in common with other groups. I think this shows that one really can't be defined by one ethnic group, or race, because the traits and DNA behind these "seperate" groups are so mixed together that an in depth study would have to be done to find all of the links.
Anyways, I'm having a hard time choosing words right now (I am completely burnt out). If we need a road map to show us how intristically woven our genes are, with the "comon" differences we have came up with (white people are more in common with each other than black people) really being worthless, then why still think through that paradigm? If ones race isn't easily so defined (which it technically, never has been), then why define it at all?
Are we susposse to say: a) "I am a human being", and that is enough, or b) "I am DNA Model 654-NOR-8445"? Why seperate us into thousands of little groups?
Peace.


--------------------
:redpanda:
If I should die this very moment
I wouldn't fear
For I've never known completeness
Like being here
Wrapped in the warmth of you
Loving every breath of you

:heartpump: :bunnyhug: :yinyang:

:yinyang: :levitate: :earth: :levitate: :yinyang:


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InvisibleSclorch
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Re: speaking of race... [Re: fireworks_god]
    #1741067 - 07/23/03 02:26 PM (13 years, 6 months ago)

It all stems from the fear of being alone.

*If you're just like everyone else, you'd feel your life is worth less than others'. You're not alone, but identity is almost irrelevant.
*If you're different, you feel your life should be worth more than others'. You're an individual, but loneliness can be an issue (unless your communication skills are up to par).


--------------------
Note: In desperate need of a cure...


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Offlinefireworks_godS
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Re: speaking of race... [Re: Sclorch]
    #1741215 - 07/23/03 03:03 PM (13 years, 6 months ago)

Once, however, you overcome fears (except for mortal ones that arrive when that kind of situation arrives, as that is the ony time that fight or fight should be used), you find comfort in the fact that you make your own identity, and just live your life. I'm not like anyone else by a long shot (one friend is close, but the way we choose to react to the same thoughts we always have is slightly different), and I think my life is worth the world to me.
Peace.


--------------------
:redpanda:
If I should die this very moment
I wouldn't fear
For I've never known completeness
Like being here
Wrapped in the warmth of you
Loving every breath of you

:heartpump: :bunnyhug: :yinyang:

:yinyang: :levitate: :earth: :levitate: :yinyang:


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OfflineMalachi
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Registered: 06/19/02
Posts: 1,294
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Re: speaking of race... [Re: Sclorch]
    #1741328 - 07/23/03 03:37 PM (13 years, 6 months ago)

come on man, loneliness isn't an issue if you can use big words? the opposite it true.


--------------------
The ultimate meaning of our being can only be fulfilled in the paradoxical leap beyond the tragic-demonic frustration. It is a leap from our side, but it is the self-surrendering presence of the Ground of Being from the other side.
- Paul Tillich


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InvisibleSclorch
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Registered: 07/13/99
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Re: speaking of race... [Re: Malachi]
    #1741370 - 07/23/03 03:46 PM (13 years, 6 months ago)

Malachi: come on man, loneliness isn't an issue if you can use big words? the opposite it true.

I think you're referring to this:
Sclorch: *If you're different, you feel your life should be worth more than others'. You're an individual, but loneliness can be an issue (unless your communication skills are up to par).

And you've got me wrong.
By "communication skills", I merely meant the ability to relate to and share your experiences with others. It is possible that someone with a minimal grasp on language (any language, pick one) could still effectively relate to another person. For that matter, who cares about language? We've got other methods of communication with which we can express ourselves... namely, ART!!!

Got me now?


--------------------
Note: In desperate need of a cure...


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OfflineMalachi
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Re: speaking of race... [Re: Sclorch]
    #1742001 - 07/23/03 07:31 PM (13 years, 6 months ago)

no, I still don't "get you".

obviously you have no idea what a lonely and desolate world this is for the "different" people. who are you supposed to communicate to if everyone has their heads up their asses?

there's a reason the best of us are always the first to die.

there's a really good bit on the resentment young black males feel towards old black males in Soul On Ice. (it's cause they aren't dead yet)


--------------------
The ultimate meaning of our being can only be fulfilled in the paradoxical leap beyond the tragic-demonic frustration. It is a leap from our side, but it is the self-surrendering presence of the Ground of Being from the other side.
- Paul Tillich


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InvisibleSclorch
Clyster

Folding@home Statistics
Registered: 07/13/99
Posts: 4,805
Loc: On the Brink of Madness
Re: speaking of race... [Re: Malachi]
    #1742372 - 07/23/03 09:09 PM (13 years, 6 months ago)

Ah... the sickening smell of ego-driven elitism!
It's like butta!
Well, spoiled butter anyways...


I used to be like that... and I'm truly thankful that those thoughts aren't archived on this website. Looking back, I find them most embarrassing. But I was a different person then. Hopefully time will teach you the virtue of patience. And maybe you, too, will tame the lion... if only just enough.


--------------------
Note: In desperate need of a cure...


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OfflineAlbino_Jesus
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Re: speaking of race... [Re: Sclorch]
    #1742718 - 07/23/03 10:35 PM (13 years, 6 months ago)

"I am lonely and bored. Please keep me company."
If your computer displayed this message on its screen, would that convince you that your notebook is conscious and has feelings?
Well, clearly, no. It's rather trivial for a program to display such a message. The message actually comes from the presumably human author of the program that includes the message. The computer is just a conduit for the message, like a book or a fortune cookie.
Suppose we add speech synthesis to the program and have the computer speak its plaintive message. Have we changed anything? While we have added technical complexity to the program, and some humanlike communication means, we still do not regard the computer as the genuine author of the message.
Suppose now that the message is not explicity programmed, but is produced by a game-playing program that contains a complex model of its own situation. The specific message may never have been forseen by the human creators of the program. it is created by the computer from the state of its own internal model as it interacts with you, the user. are we getting closer to considering the computer as a conscious, feeling entity?
Maybe just a tad. But if we consider contemporary game software, the illusion is probably short-lived as we gradually figure out the methods and limitations behind the computer's ability for small talk.
Now suppose the mechanisms behind the message grow to become a massive neural net, built from silicon but based on a reverse engineering of the human brain. Suppose we develop a learningh protocol for this neural net that enables it to learn human language and model human knowledge. Its circuits are a million times faster than human neurons, so it has plenty of time to read all human literature and develop its own conceptions of reality. Its creators do not tell it how to respond to the world. Suppose now that it says, "I'm lonely..."


--------------------
The only difference between the Republican and Democratic parties is the velocities with which their knees hit the floor when corporations knock on their door.
-Ralph Nader



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Offlinefireworks_godS
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Re: speaking of race... [Re: Albino_Jesus]
    #1742933 - 07/23/03 11:30 PM (13 years, 6 months ago)

I had a post back in the day, saying a lot of the same things that you said right there... now, what if that is all we are? The same thing happened to us? We would be the computers Creator. Are we infallable? Not by a long shot. Who says that our Creator is?


--------------------
:redpanda:
If I should die this very moment
I wouldn't fear
For I've never known completeness
Like being here
Wrapped in the warmth of you
Loving every breath of you

:heartpump: :bunnyhug: :yinyang:

:yinyang: :levitate: :earth: :levitate: :yinyang:


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OfflineAlbino_Jesus
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Re: speaking of race... [Re: Sclorch]
    #1744550 - 07/24/03 02:18 PM (13 years, 5 months ago)

Quote:

Sclorch said:
It's like butta!






don't you mean buddah?


--------------------
The only difference between the Republican and Democratic parties is the velocities with which their knees hit the floor when corporations knock on their door.
-Ralph Nader



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