About PhilU


My background is in hard (no pun intended) sciences, so sometimes I write stories as a creative outlet. Mostly writing for my own amusement about what interests me. Somehow those stories seem to involve quite a lot of sex (how does that happen?) Quite a few years ago, I used to read rec.arts.erotica and alt.sex.stories.moderated, and wrote a few stories which I decided needed to be polished more (and more) before letting others see them (so I never did send anything off). Years later, I find myself divorced and starting to write again, and perhaps being slightly less of a perfectionist, so I thought maybe I might share a few stories.

Still a bit of a perfectionist, though, and becoming very aware that there are some brilliant writers on Lush who put my own work to shame, so if anyone has time to provide any constructive criticism, then that would be very welcome!

I generally prefer stories which happen to contain sex, or at least where the characters have a reason to be having sex, so that's what I'm trying to write.

Oh, and the avatar's probably not me. I'm not sure any more...

Phil Udont-needtoknow
Relationship Status:
In a Relationship
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Playing football (which some ignorant Aussies sometimes call soccer) - I'd rather watch Aussie rules football, but don't like getting hurt enough to play that...and occasionally trying to keep in shape - gym, jogging etc. Getting to the beach or bushwalking (that translates as hiking/rambling/tramping). Also been exploring meditation and yoga recently.
Favorite Books:
Umm, how to narrow it down? Perhaps a toss-up between The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and The Outsider (L'Etranger) by Camus... not sure what that says about me?
Favorite Authors:
All time favourite is probably the late, great Terry Pratchett, but also like to read the classics.
Favorite Movies:
Favourite is "Life of Brian", but watch a wide range of movies... probably more arthouse than Hollywood, and probably more likely something light and funny than something intending to terrify me.
Favourite TV Shows:
Anything but "reality" TV...
Favorite Music:
Should I mention that I was a child of the 80s? Umm, perhaps not...


Date Joined:
13 Jan 2017
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Posted: 06 Nov 2019 14:38

Thank you. It’s good to read thoughtful posts.

I think a private, for-profit prison's main interest is to satisfy the terms of its contract. After all, a corporation’s end goal is to profit from anything it deals in.

All the items you listed can be specified in an operations or management contract, and before that in the RFP. I’ve read in one of the linked references of examples of some of them that are specified. The contract can include penalty clauses for non-compliance for any of the SLAs, as well as awards for exceeding them by some measure. If the bids from contractors fail to respond to the RFP, or that the bids’ cost exceeds the limit the contracting agency is willing or authorized to spend, then the responsibility for the custodial care of the criminals remains with the state.

Here’s a link to the Washington Post’s 2014 article on how difficult it can be to usefully measure these costs. Here’s a link to the academic version .

So it seems to me if the state wants to save money by contracting out this service, it's the state's responsibility to describe its requirements. And the state’s responsibility doesn’t stop there. Also in the earlier references is the requirement the state has to enforce the terms of the contract. Unannounced inspections are one way to do that.

The issue of recidivism is important , and if you read through Professor Volokh’s WP article, equally difficult to measure. He does indicate the recidivism rates of private prisons is not out of line with public prisons. Here’s a link to a 2005 study he mentions.

I’m left with the impression there’s nothing in particular about private prisons that can’t be managed – if the state agency wants to.

It's not unique to prisons, but one major issue that those advocating privatisation of natural monopolies have is that they assert two things about the government sector. Firstly, that it's so hopeless that it can't be trusted to run anything itself without becoming bloated and inefficient. And secondly, that it can be trusted to set up and enforce rules that will keep in line private businesses with strong motivations to bend rules, better lawyers and the ability to offer better pay to anyone competent in the govt sector.

And somehow the govt sector regulators can know exactly what the private business is up to at all times, at a tiny fraction of the cost of actually running the business, since the total cost, including regulation (which is never published by those who pushed for the privatisation) is supposed to go down.

I know little about the private prison system, but the privatisations I do know a bit about have never gone the way the textbooks say they "should".

Posted: 05 Nov 2019 23:58

Projecting what humans define as morality ("Principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behaviour.") on to successful survival behavior of animals that do not display the capabilities of abstracting the principals of what humans define as morality, is unsupported by evidence. Perhaps there are studies showing that rats, dolphins and elephants are aware of “principles” as an idea that can be integrated with other ideas such as “concerning” and “distinction”, etc. I have not read. I have read of people equating successful behavior strategies in animals and morality, without first establishing those animals are capable of the abstract thinking needed for what humans define to be morality.

That religions are only found among humans does not mean religions were invented by them. Abstract language is also only found among humans but was not invented by them. The sentence, “For all right-angle triangles on a plane, the square on the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares on the other two sides” is an example of abstract language.

I would like to read the evidence you have that morality, as morality (“Principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behaviour.”), not successful behavior strategies, predates religion.

And in passing, yes, it can, although that does not mean it must.

I would raise a slight question as to whether much of human morality extends beyond 'successful behavio r strategies' and emotions (feeling empathy for fellow humans and not wanting to feel guilt for doing something 'bad'). Obviously, some humans are fantastic at abstracting ideas, but many decisions are made based on habit, emotion or subconscious urges, sometimes with a narrative invented in the brain afterwards (see link ).

And how abstract does a thought have to be to become a 'principle' (possibly semantics)? Animals do seem to have a basis of morality (even without any profound philosophical discussions about it), which they seem to apply to situations that they have not seen (extending a general principle). All of which suggests that morality probably evolved before religion.

But I do have to admit that the science is probably lacking a bit still - I should backtrack the tone of my posts to where I started from (in language, at least, I've become more sure of my own views as people debate them, without more evidence to support that...).

So I'll probably leave it at: I believe morality predates religion and can exist without it, but that's an atheist's belief (subject to change if convincing evidence to the contrary is found).

Posted: 04 Nov 2019 17:44

Possibly support? As religions do provide moral directions, unless you can provide an explanation as to why those who do practice a religion would not get their moral teachings from it, I think it's reasonable to go with the idea they do.


Do you find fault with that definition? If you do, then please explain yourself.

I gave an example of where people get some moral teachings from outside of their religion (Catholics deciding to use birth control), so clearly some people at least filter religious ideas through their society's norms and perhaps even common sense occasionally.

Anyway, I like that definition... so much, in fact, that I quoted it here earlier. What I like about it is that it shortens the debate here. Social animals live to principles of good and bad behaviour. Senior members of the group demonstrate "good" behaviour and gently correct bad behaviour of youngsters. Serious transgressions are punished (sometimes with exile from the group, which can reduce life expectancy greatly).

Some of the good behaviour looks a lot like what we humans would consider moral e.g. rats putting helping another rat in distress ahead of eating chocolate ( link ), dolphins saving other animals from harm and elephants paying respects to the bones of deceased friends ( link for both of these ), and some doesn't e.g. the bonobos eating a dead young family member discussed earlier. But different human cultures think others immoral too.

Religion, unlike morality, needs language (how else can a parent tell a child what they're supposed to believe?), so religion is a purely human invention. Morality is found in numerous species without religion, and almost certainly predates religion in our own species, and hence morality can exist without religion.

Posted: 03 Nov 2019 23:40

I am impressed to learn you can handle being identified as someone who contradicts himself when he believes it will help him "win" an argument.

I am impressed to learn you can handle being identified as someone who posts misleading references to help him "win" an argument.

In short, I am impressed to learn you can handle being identified as someone whose posts are untrustworthy.

Based upon those facts, why would anyone pay any attention to what you have to say about anything?

I was just thinking... if you think all of noll's posts can be ignored, why don't you (and your "friends") just ignore them? Or maybe even block him? It might reduce the length of many think tank threads by about 50%, but it will only reduce the useful content by 1% at most...

Posted: 03 Nov 2019 21:37

One is never too old to learn, eh?
World Population 2012
World Religion Census 2012

Thanks for the subtle patronizing... I'll do my best to return in kind...

Maybe I'll learn not to expect anything profound from you. It still says bugger all about your initial comment... bearing in mind when I said "we" I was referring to atheists...

We can choose morality without considering any religious teachings, but we don't have to...

And interestingly, if one accepts the reported numbers, most don't.

Anyway, it does possibly support your other comment... if we assume a large fraction of people who identify with all those different religions have "morality", take that morality from their religion (I've met a few people who would identify as Catholics, who ignore their church's teachings on birth control, for example) and that only humans have morality. Clearly TheTravellingMan struggles to give a definition of "morality" satisfying those conditions. Did you want to try?

Posted: 03 Nov 2019 19:01

And interestingly, if one accepts the reported numbers, most don't.

Which reported numbers are you referring to? I've not seen any numbers reported here that support your conclusion above or the comment that "morality exists primarily with religion"...

Posted: 03 Nov 2019 16:55

Off the point, again, ignoring the obvious.

Yes, a minority of wars have been fought in the name of religion, the only wars since the Reformation and Enlightenment considered by academics as motivated by religion have been very, very few since the 1880s.

And the bloodshed of the 20th century puts all wars and conflict into context, they pale into insignificance in terms of loss of life endured throughout the first half of that century. Who were the protagonists then? Religious or Atheist?

All of the Abrahamic faiths have a different interpretation of one story and branch off, Islam and Christianity, Judaism too. The Eastern faiths are based on centuries of teachings.

Atheists do not have that. Instead, they have left a trail of destruction and death... great start.

Okay, I admit I have no idea what you consider "the point" to be. Is your point that you should pull me up if I (intentionally) quote Adam Smith out of context, but I should ignore it when you write something that is quite clearly untrue (" ll religions mono and polytheistic are peaceful"), since, if we ignore everything prior to the 1880s, limit ourselves to a handful of major religions (and ignore some extremists and doomsday cultists), then it's possibly, kind of, a bit true??

But all atheists have left a "trail of destruciton and death"?

Incidentally, atheists _do_ have the centuries of teachings from Eastern faiths, and centuries of teaching from Western faiths too. We can use all that and also common sense in choosing moral paths, without being weighed down by thinking that some of those teachings are divinely-inspired and others are heretical nonsense. We can choose morality without considering any religious teachings, but we don't have to...

Posted: 02 Nov 2019 23:43

Well done, you have succeeded in stating the bleeding obvious and you have repeated back in your own words what I said.

How do atheists get 'no free ride'? What moral code? They cannot agree on one. So they tag along in a society where the Church plays a major role. Atheists opt out, where is the atheistic society that does not exist? Those that did, descended into bloodshed. That is the point and you are dancing around your handbag trying to avoid.

That's true... atheists can't agree on one morality. Of course, neither can theists e.g. some Christians support same sex marriages in their church while others like to tell everyone that "homosexuals will all burn in hell". I wish they'd all agree so I could free ride on their ideas of right and wrong, and not have to think independently. Because I'm sure everyone knows that it's atheists who hate independent thought....

And yeah, we "tag along"... because almost everyone thinks it immoral to try to get rid of the church, except through words... And in morality, as in science, if ideas are worthy then the beliefs of the person who formulated them shouldn't matter.

All religions mono and polytheistic are peaceful and instruct their followers to uphold a moral code, the 42 Principles of Maat are 4,200 years old. Atheists cannot point to a time in human development where a lack of religion led to a moral and just society, again, the only time that atheism was achieved was through hostility to religion and carnage.

Would morality exist without religion - an existential question. Has it ever existed, yes. Was it a success, as the sum of its governance, the morality of that society, and the effect on its population, absolutely not.

Hmm... all religions are peaceful?!? So why is history littered with wars fought in the name of religion?!

Posted: 02 Nov 2019 15:07

If I was you, I would do some reading.

Capitalism does not just 'grab resources' nor do 'whatever suits you best', and a quote from a film does not replace the work of Adam Smith and his two words that you took completely out of context.

Finally, 'Christian Communism' has never been tried, ever.

Whatever world you live in, it's yours and yours alone.

You do realize that all of that could be true and it would still tell you nothing about the topic at hand.

Capitalism's main claim to a moral basis is that it sort of works... with enough govt control.

In other words, atheists get a free ride, they are 'moral' because the society around them is coherent and based on a learned behaviour based on religious law (that's history folks) and also codified in civil and criminal law (that's history folks) and around them they encounter people in society that are religious or sympathetic to its ideals (that's fact). No atheist, ever, has been able to define morality except to say, it was the chimps that did it and it's all evolution without any evidence whatsoever and a survival instinct makes us moral - only it doesn't.

And this is the problem with atheists and their belief (oh, the irony, they have faith) - one answer is nihilism. Which leads us back to Stalin, Hitler... etc, etc...

There is no such avenue for anyone happy to live under religious constructs of morality.

Sure, there are bad people that conduct evil acts in the name of religion - that is the fallibility of mankind and there is nothing in atheism that corrects that.

Ah, something close to on topic.

Actually, atheists get no free ride. They have to choose their own moral code, rather than just going by what a book or a priest tells them. And if they transgress then they have to deal with the guilt (an emotion we almost certainly share with chimps, btw) without the prospect of saying a few "Hail Mary"s or sacrificing a goat or a virgin to make things right.

There are no totally atheistic societies, which tells us mostly that people like to create religions, to explain their origins, codify moral rules and (to varying degrees) give the priest class power. Enforcing atheism is not going to end morally, just as trying to get rid of specific religions (whether by feeding Christians to lions, crusades, jihads, inquisitions or whatever) is going to lead to behaviour that most would call immoral (although clearly not some religious leaders...)

I've still yet to see a definition of morality that is broad enough to suggest that people outside the Christian West have morality, but our closest great ape relatives do not. Perhaps you'd like to have another try?

Posted: 01 Nov 2019 15:58

Wow, just the Soviet Leaders, really? And Marxism or Stalinism have a better moral code than Capitalism?

Go on then, argue that it is a more moral code. Don't start with 'No-one has got Communism right yet, it was just bad leaders.'....

150 million dead in the 20th century might disagree with you and the most murderous political ideology of all time as well.

Still, it's arguably more moral than free will, religion and capitalism... really?

I'm all ears...

At the heart of capitalism is the idea that you should do whatever suits you the best, grab as many resources as you can ("greed is good") and rely on an "invisible hand" to make it work for others. At the heart of the ideal of communism is to do what is best for society. Obviously, that is
all-too-easily corrupted into what is best for the communist party.

There's never been a nation anywhere near the ideal of communism and likely never will be. There's also never been a nation with complete laissez faire capitalism.

Curiously, even though Marx obviously didn't like religion ("the opiate of the masses"), there's no particular reason why some form of communism couldn't co-exist with religion. The Book of Acts suggests early Christians lived that way - />
Anyway, trying to remember what the topic was, none of this shows that there would be no morality without religion, just that some people without religion acted immorally. Some religious people do too...

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