Dark, but funny dig from Talking Points:
In unexpected dig against Jeff Greenfield, entire Bush war cabinet adopts Ahmadinejad look.
By celebrating Richard Dawkins' new book, The God Delusion, you show how out of touch you are with the overwhelming majority of the world's population.
... So much for tolerance and open-mindedness. In Dawkins' view, and presumably Singer's, religion is the source of all evil, while atheism is the path of enlightenment, brotherhood and liberation.
... And never mind that even non-religious academics, such as Prof Rodney Stark, have claimed with massive amounts of documentation that Christianity created Western civilisation.
Prof Stark points out that most of the benefits of the West, such as freedom, democracy and prosperity, are largely due to the Christian religion.
Another secular author says that for all the slaughters in the name of religion over the centuries, there is another side of the ledger.
Every time I travel in the poorest parts of Africa, I see missionary hospitals that are the only source of assistance to desperate people.
God may not help amputees sprout new limbs, but churches do galvanise their members to support soup kitchens, homeless shelters and clinics that otherwise would not exist.
Religious constituencies have pushed for more action on AIDS, malaria, sex trafficking and genocide in Darfur.
Believers often give large proportions of their incomes to charities that are a lifeline to the neediest.
I am not aware of any hospitals or charitable works set up by atheists.
And never mind that many noted philosophers have pointed out that it was the Christian emphasis on reason that gave rise to modern science.
Singer and Dawkins are way out of their depth, showing their ignorance about the gospel accounts in particular and theology in general. They really should keep silent on subjects they clearly know so little about.
... Singer says we should all worship at the altar of reason.
That is just what the revolutionaries argued in the French Revolution when churches were ransacked and believers were sent to the guillotine.
The truth is, a lot of open minds need to be closed for repairs. The nasty diatribes launched by Dawkins and Singer are examples of secular fundamentalism and intolerance.
Indeed, they seek to make a sharp distinction between faith and reason, between religion and science. They claim that science gives us truth, but faith is simply myth.
But more sober minds on both sides of the debate recognise these to be false polarisations. Faith, at least in the Christian religion, is informed by reason. It may at times go beyond reason, but it does not run counter to it.
And the scientific enterprise is also characterised by faith commitment.
There are all kinds of unproven assumptions and presuppositions which may or may not be testable.
The myth of complete scientific neutrality and objectivity has been countered by many important thinkers.
Singer is free to engage in her simplistic thinking and crude materialism, in which only matter matters.
But for billions, non-material things such as truth, beauty, justice, love and even God are very meaningful realities, which the narrow world of atheism will never fully enjoy nor understand.
Environmentalists have asked Australia's military to wage war on cane toads, which have spread across the country's north in near-plague proportions.
The toads, introduced in a batch of 101 from Hawaii in 1935 in a failed bid to control native cane beetles, have spread 3,000 km (1,900 miles) from northeast Queensland to Darwin in Australia's tropical north. There are now more than 200 million.
"We need as many people on the ground as we can possibly get, and if the military can work out strategies for controlling toads on their ground, well that's fine with us," Frog Watch spokesman Ian Morris told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio on Wednesday.
Cane toads are one of Australia's worst environmental mistakes, ranking alongside the catastrophic introduction of rabbits.
The spread of the toads, whose skin is poisonous, has led to dramatic declines in populations of native snakes, goanna lizards and quolls. A quoll is a cat-sized marsupial.
Killing the hardy toads with anything from golf clubs to air rifles has become a northern Australian pastime, and their carcasses are turned into comic tourist ornaments and fertilizer.
Which is why these little rovers mean so much to me. They're MY eyes on Mars, my representatives there. I talked in that last poem about Spirit about "walking alongside" the rover, and that's really how I feel. Like many "Mars enthusiasts", I check rover-related websites (Exploratorium, UMSF etc) several times a day, looking for new pics, following the latest leg of the journey. Every time the rovers move and bring a new horizon into view I feel a genuine thrill of discovery, of exploration. That run-up to the edge of VC was UNBEARABLE! Every day so close, so close... then we were there, "Oppy" and I, on the edge, looking into and across it... well, Steve Squyres' long, tight-throated pause in his interview with Doug Ellison on the Unmanned Spaceflight forum (Google it, you won't regret it) described my own feelings superbly. It was like the very first time I saw Yosemite Valley, after emerging from that long tunnel into the sunlight to see The View, where giant hands had reached down from the heavens and wrenched the Earth apart. Look. At. That.
HENRY: You know, going back to September 2001, the president said, dead or alive, we're going to get him. Still don't have him. I know you are saying there's successes on the war on terror, and there have been. That's a failure.
TOWNSEND: Well, I'm not sure -- it's a success that hasn't occurred yet. I don't know that I view that as a failure.
NEAR THE END OF THE MOST RECENT school board meeting, Clark County Board of School Trustees President Ruth Johnson was wailing and begging for mercy.
"I'm not going to allow myself to be attacked! Please don't attack me personally anymore!" she wept.
Trustee Shirley Barber pounded angrily on a table with an I-will-bury-you force.
"I'm going to file an ethics complaint with the Attorney General! You do not control me! You do not control this board!" Barber bellowed back, pinning Johnson against the rhetorical ropes with blow after blow.
"We're violating laws here!" Barber continued. "We have not been honest in evaluating ourselves and our superintendent! This is not acceptable!"
Johnson shrank, punch-drunk, and babbled tearfully about false accusations and her family's honor. Yet that didn't stop Barber from pummeling her. There was no referee. Johnson screamed at the audio man to shut down the microphones. Barber howled at him to leave them on.
The few stragglers in the audience (it was late) were riveted to their seats, wide-eyed, mouths agape.
...But Barber is black. As is a large contingent of the area she represents. For years Barber has watched schools in her district struggle without basic necessities while schools in more affluent areas have flourished.
...This gruesome threesome that Barber consistently condemns as impediments to progress in the school district are Johnson and trustees Sheila Moulton and Mary Beth Scow. An unspoken implication of their cat-fighting is that the rumble is, sadly, really about race and religion.
"The past is not dead," William Faulkner said. "In fact, it's not even past."
... What finally stopped it? I did. In 20 years of teaching I've stopped hundreds of such fights. That's part of what I do. I'm a trained professional. I started applauding loudly while the women were going at it.
... "Thank you! That was excellent! I love performance art! You should be proud of yourselves! I'm sure 18,000 teachers in the district would appreciate the incompetence you have demonstrated here tonight as they slave for poverty-level wages in the trenches of our overcrowded classrooms! Bravo! Beautiful! Thank you!"
THE drought gripping southeast Australia is due to natural variations in climate rather than the greenhouse effect.
... "It is very, very highly likely that what we are seeing at the moment is natural climatic variability," researcher Barrie Hunt told The Australian, saying the CSIRO's model of 10,000 years of natural climate variability put the current drought into perspective.
... Mr Hunt's research focused on three 500 sq km sites in Australia: one on the Queensland-NSW border, going down to the coast; southeast Australia, which included Melbourne, Sydney and much of the Murray River basin; and southwest Western Australia, including the Perth region.
He looked at the frequency of dry sequences lasting eight years or longer.
"In each of those places there are about 30 occasions over 10,000 years where you get one of these eight or more years sequences," he said.
"The longest sequence was 14 years in Queensland-NSW, 11 in the southeast and 10 in the southwest."
Mr Hunt said the Queensland-NSW area had had an 800-year period without an eight-year dry, "but there is another period of 462 years where you get five of these".
Mr Hunt said the onset, duration and termination of the long dries could not be predicted because they were due to random processes. He said the current drought was an example of a dry sequence that began with an El Nino weather system.
"It starts a drought and you get sea-surface temperatures flickering backwards and forwards a bit. The rainfall may go back to fairly near normal but it is still below average, and then you get another El Nino," he said.
"This can go on for a decade. Eventually it breaks. You don't know why, it is a random thing. This is just part of the beauty of the climatic system."
Most of Victoria is in a 10-year dry sequence, the Murray River is in its sixth year of drought, while Brisbane and much of NSW are also experiencing a six-year dry.
"It is important that people realise that natural variability says it will break. It may not break next year, because one of these things went on for 14 years, but it will break," Mr Hunt said.
... Mr Hunt said the dry sequence in the southwest was different, with a decline over 30 years, which included the odd year of above-average rainfall.
"It isn't violating what I am saying, but it is a very unusual sequence of events there," he said.
“It never occurred to me to call 911 or my physician,” Dr. DeBakey said, adding: “As foolish as it may appear, you are, in a sense, a prisoner of the pain, which was intolerable. You’re thinking, What could I do to relieve myself of it. If it becomes intense enough, you’re perfectly willing to accept cardiac arrest as a possible way of getting rid of the pain.”
But when his heart kept beating, Dr. DeBakey suspected that he was not having a heart attack. As he sat alone, he decided that a ballooning had probably weakened the aorta, the main artery leading from the heart, and that the inner lining of the artery had torn, known as a dissecting aortic aneurysm.
No one in the world was more qualified to make that diagnosis than Dr. DeBakey because, as a younger man, he devised the operation to repair such torn aortas, a condition virtually always fatal. The operation has been performed at least 10,000 times around the world and is among the most demanding for surgeons and patients.
...He refused to be admitted to a hospital until late January. As his health deteriorated and he became unresponsive in the hospital in early February, his surgical partner of 40 years, Dr. George P. Noon, decided an operation was the only way to save his life. But the hospital’s anesthesiologists refused to put Dr. DeBakey to sleep because such an operation had never been performed on someone his age and in his condition. Also, they said Dr. DeBakey had signed a directive that forbade surgery.
As the hospital’s ethics committee debated in a late-night emergency meeting on the 12th floor of Methodist Hospital, Dr. DeBakey’s wife, Katrin, barged in to demand that the operation begin immediately.
In the end, the ethics committee approved the operation; an anesthesiology colleague of Dr. DeBakey’s, who now works at a different hospital, agreed to put him to sleep; and the seven-hour operation began shortly before midnight on Feb. 9. “It is a miracle,” Dr. DeBakey said as he sat eating dinner in a Houston restaurant recently. “I really should not be here.”
The last possibility might make sense if people are overextended on credit - the consumer economy of the last decade finally sailing into the coral reefs of debt. But you'd never guess on appearances alone!
There were other vignettes too:
I am Jaguar Paw! This is my forest! My sons and their sons will hunt here after I am gone!Nevertheless, there were plenty of cringe-inducing moments, like the whole locker-room, boys-will-be-boys opening, or the conflation of Mayans with Aztecs. Plus the fortuitous, unanticipated total eclipse of the sun (Central Americans knew their calendar, so the priests at the very least would have known long in advance of an eclipse).