Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Sunday, March 28, 2010
"Should the pope resign?" No. As the College of Cardinals must have recognized when they elected him, he is perfectly—ideally—qualified to lead the Roman Catholic Church. A leering old villain in a frock, who spent decades conspiring behind closed doors for the position he now holds; a man who believes he is infallible and acts the part; a man whose preaching of scientific falsehood is responsible for the deaths of countless AIDS victims in Africa; a man whose first instinct when his priests are caught with their pants down is to cover up the scandal and damn the young victims to silence: in short, exactly the right man for the job. He should not resign, moreover, because he is perfectly positioned to accelerate the downfall of the evil, corrupt organization whose character he fits like a glove, and of which he is the absolute and historically appropriate monarch.
No, Pope Ratzinger should not resign. He should remain in charge of the whole rotten edifice—the whole profiteering, woman-fearing, guilt-gorging, truth-hating, child-raping institution—while it tumbles, amid a stench of incense and a rain of tourist-kitsch sacred hearts and preposterously crowned virgins, about his ears. (link)
H/T: Marginal revolution.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
On a tangent, the MP3-player, coupled with podcasting, is a wonderful invention, so able to insert productivity into normally barren stretches of time. To be sure, like cellphones and computers, it can be a double-edged sword—you can fill it with time-wasting nonsense, and one must at times turn it all off, anyway, to ensure at least a few silent spaces for reflection—but, if one knows how to use it properly, I would say it is a radically life-enhancing piece of technology.
H/T, first link: Pharyngula.
* You know, like suicide bombers, who appear to enjoy support from "only" about a fifth of the population overseas—but hey, they have a violent religion, right? No way any other large group of people could ever give a nudge and a wink to violence, right?
Monday, March 22, 2010
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Granted, all of the cognitive science is sandwiched between two thin chapters seemingly devoted to a defense of libertarianism, but not only is the defense transparently inadequate (not necessarily wrong, but far too quick and shallow), but the remainder of the book, while not irrelevant to economics, certainly is irrelevant to any case for libertarianism. It is almost as though the parts of the book defending libertarianism were intended as an elaborate joke—as a practical demonstration of some of the cognitive fallacies discussed in the bulk of the book.
With this said, I think Shermer has produced another fine book all-in-all, and perhaps the kind of thing I would like my future "Principles of Sound Reasoning" students to read.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Saturday, March 6, 2010
Friday, March 5, 2010
Once again the American Right must "face historical reality," as Whittaker Chambers advised half a century ago. So tightly wedded to the politics of protest, movement ideologues have missed the salient fact about America today: the nation has entered a conservative phase, perhaps the most conservative since the Eisenhower years. This is why Arlen Specter, a longtime Republican moderate facing sure defeat in a primary campaign dominated by movement conservatives, could abruptly switch parties without altering any of his important positions. It is also why David Souter, who in his nineteen years on the Supreme Court infuriated so many on the right by his refusal to advance the movement's pet judicial causes—instead immersing himself in the study of history, partly to uncover in the past "some relevance to a constitutional rule where earlier judges saw none"—may well endure as the most authentic conservative in the Court's modern history.
And it is why attempts to depict Barack Obama as a radical or socialist dissolve under the most rudimentary examination of the facts. The decision by his team of conservative, Wall Street-inflected economists to fortify the banking system and improve the flow of credit is patently an attempt to salvage the free market, quite as the economic conservative Roosevelt tried to do in 1933. Obama's plan to extend health coverage to the nearly fifty million Americans who lack it is pure Disraeli. And Obama's foreign policy, premised on diplomacy and multicultural concord, is as forceful a repudiation of the imperial presidency as we have seen in the modern era. All these are the actions of a leader who, while politically liberal, is temperamentally conservative and who has placed his faith the durability—and renewability—of American institutions.
Culturally, too, these are conservative times. The Right should revel in the emergence of a new generation of college students who have rediscovered the virtues of public service and volunteerism, and of business school graduates who are turning away from Wall Street, either to experiment with Internet commerce or to choose altogether different careers. What better evidence that the young are no longer alienated from our civil society and that the chasm between the "business elite" and the "adversary culture" is negotiable after all—and may someday narrow to extinction? So, too, conservatives should savor the embrace of "family values" by the nation's homosexual population, who seek the sanctuary—and responsibilities—of marriage and child-rearing, a development unthinkable a generation ago, when gays personified the excesses of the "alternative lifestyle" (pp. 117-118).
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Direct link to streaming MP3.