I had to wait for the snow to stop and the wind to die down a bit. The surface was a crusty, icy cover over a bunch of snow.
Links to most of my previous snow-stomp art (in reverse chronological order):
O Tannenbaum (this post)
I had to wait for the snow to stop and the wind to die down a bit. The surface was a crusty, icy cover over a bunch of snow.
Links to most of my previous snow-stomp art (in reverse chronological order):
O Tannenbaum (this post)
Quoted from the Elder of Ziyon [EE: emphasis added]:
Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinians: Erasing Christian HistoryFor Palestinian Christians, the destruction of the ancient Byzantine church ruins is yet a further attempt by Palestinian Muslim leaders to efface both Christian history and signs of any Christian presence in the West Bank and Gaza, under the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas. A growing number of Christians feel they are being systematically targeted by both the PA and Hamas for being Christians.
Bulldozers were used to destroy some of the church artifacts; some Palestinian Christians accused both Hamas and the PA of copying ISIS tactics to demolish historic sites.
"Where are the heads of the churches in Jerusalem and the world?... Where are the Vatican and UNESCO? Where are the leaders and politicians who talk, talk, talk about national unity and the preservation of holy sites? Or is this a collective conspiracy to end our existence and history in the East?" — Sami Khalil, a Christian from the West Bank city of Nablus.
The plight of Palestinian Christians does not interest the international community. That is because Israel cannot be blamed for demolishing the antiquities. If the current policy against Christians persists, the day will come when no Christians will be left in Bethlehem.
From Foreign Affairs,
Woman accused of adultery stoned to death by Taliban
On Wednesday, an Afghan official confirmed the Oct. 24 murder of a 22-year-old Afghan woman accused of adultery (Post, Guardian). The woman, identified only as Rokhshana, was forced to stand in a deep hole in the ground while being stoned in Ghor province, according to governor spokesman Abdul Hai Khateby. The stoning occurred after the Taliban’s local tribal council found her guilty of having pre-marital sex with her fiancé, and the fiancé was lashed (Aljazeera). A video of the stoning appeared online late on Monday and has been widely discussed on social media in Afghanistan.
I have been thinking about posting about this for some time, but have been reluctant. I may lose some FB friends over this, but here goes:
For those who don't know, I was born and raised in the USA.
When the US changed its pledge of allegiance to the flag in 1954 to add the prepositional phrase "under God", as a very young student I was confused and I think more than a bit disappointed. I saw no reason to add that phrase. I was, at the time, being raised in a solid Christian family, but it was in the Congregational church, which had a somewhat liberal (?) view of theology. I had no idea what I believed or didn't believe theologically, but believe me I revealed these doubts very rarely.
I saw then, and I see now, absolutely no reason for that phrase ("Under God") to have been added to the Pledge of Allegiance. I had a somewhat negative reaction when it was added, even at the tender age I was (grade school?) at the time. My feeling then, as I recall, somewhat vaguely, was "Why add that? It doesn't matter, and (believe it or not, I think I had this thought) I thought we had separation of church and state in the United States.
And only recently did I realize the US had replaced "E pluribus unum" on its coins. Good grief. "E pluribus unum" is a wonderful statement about the history of the USA. The replacement "In God we trust" seems so different. It denies the history of the US (albeit indirectly) and borders on turning the US into a theocracy (heaven forbid! [incongruity intended]).
What prompted this post? Earlier today I read yet another Facebook posting about the pledge of allegiance to the US flag (which strikes me as idolatry that Moses would have discouraged). Here it is:
My reaction? Yea Pepsi! If this is correct, I may have to switch from Coke Zero to whatever Pepsi sells.
According to this article, the universe as we know it is dying [h/t Jack]. Stars are burning out and energy is being dispersed.
JR (my favourite drug dealer) added (with less whimsy than it might initially seem),
[Our] universe is expanding, communicating with other universes ([via] black holes), and who knows, it might even procreate by fission or budding or by exchanging universal fluids with another universe one day: this sounds like living more than dying.What would Jonathan Livingston Seagull do?
My guess is that Iran will have working nuclear weapons and missiles capable of "delivering" them within the next five or fewer years. (somehow using the verb "deliver" with launching a nuclear weapon cries for the use of quotation marks in my mind.)
My guess, also, is that the US and the West will do nothing more to impede this process, other than issue very strong and very meaningless proclamations and rhetoric.
I also am guessing that Israel would love to stop this but will be pressured by the West not to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities.
As a result, I expect two things from Israel:
What if bombers in the air and a missile shield don't deter Iran?
My major hope is that the threat of mutual annihilation will deter the outbreak of a nuclear war in the middle east. I'm not entirely optimistic, though. Sometimes information is imperfect, sometimes errors in reasoning are made, and sometimes determination and beliefs affect decisions in unbelievable ways.
I love this statement, quoted in part by Steve Horwitz on Facebook with his introductory sentence:
Hey other traditionalist religious groups, this is how you do it in a pluralist liberal democracy (it's also why I'd never be an Orthodox Jew, but...):
"“In response to the decisions announced today by the United States Supreme Court with reference to the issue of legal recognition of same sex marriage, we reiterate the historical position of the Jewish faith, enunciated unequivocally in our Bible, Talmud and Codes, which forbids homosexual relationships and condemns the institutionalization of such relationships as marriages. Our religion is emphatic in defining marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman. Our beliefs in this regard are unalterable. At the same time, we note that Judaism teaches respect for others and we condemn discrimination against individuals.
We are grateful that we live in a democratic society, in which all religions are free to express their opinions about social issues and to advocate vigorously for those opinions. The reason we opt to express our viewpoint in a public forum is because we believe that our Divine system of law not only dictates our beliefs and behaviors, but also represents a system of universal morality, and therefore can stake a claim in the national discourse. That morality, expressed in what has broadly been labeled Judeo-Christian ethics, has long had a place in American law and jurisprudence.
We also recognize that no religion has the right to dictate its beliefs to the entire body politic and we do not expect that secular law will always align with our viewpoint. Ultimately, decisions on social policy remain with the democratic process, and today the process has spoken and we accord the process and its result the utmost respect." [EE: emphasis added]
Now let's hope the processes they have given so much respect to give that respect back and allow them to have, in their words "appropriate accommodations and exemptions for institutions and individuals who abide by religious teachings that limit their ability to support same-sex relationships."
I do have some difficulties with the last paragraph, however. If a religious organization had discrimination against blacks or Jews as one of its tenets, on the one hand I would argue the state should dominate; on the other I would favour freedom of association. And that leaves me in a state of limbo. I expect the same might well be true in the case of religions that discriminate against LGBTs, or religious orders that admit only one sex into membership, etc.
Lomborg understands that in a world of scarcity, choices involve costs and that trade-offs must be made.
Pope Francis's concern for the poor is clear, so it is understandable that climate change is the topic of his forthcoming Encyclical — a Papal letter that is sent out to the world. Climate change will hit the most destitute people first and worst.
But the climate policies of today will do little for the poor. This doesn’t mean that we should ignore climate change. There are two compelling actions that should be part of the Pope’s prescription. Phasing out subsidies for fossil fuels would not only help the planet, it would free money to spend on education and health. And the rich world needs to increase investments in green energy research, to speed the day when renewable energy sources can outcompete fossil fuels
But we also need to recognize that the actions that would most help the world's poor are not climate policies. Ensuring freer trade, greater access to family planning, and nutritional interventions cost a fraction of expensive, inefficient climate policies. When helping the world's poorest is the goal, these are the investments that would truly make the biggest difference.
The above is what Lomborg posted on Facebook with this link to a recent op-ed piece he wrote.
How about buttered coffee? Sounds good to me, but even before reading this article, I had developed a taste for having my coffee with whipping cream (unwhipped) in it.
It's a lengthy article, and so here are a couple of snippets:
[Asprey] completely dismantled the food pyramid—the 1992 chart that advised people to eat a carbohydrate-rich diet and very few fats—and argues that the proper diet should consist of as much as 70 percent fat. It’s similar to the paleo diet, the regimen that forbids any food not available to prehistoric man, with some modifications, like allowing white rice. “Your hormones are made of saturated fat, your brain is made of fat, and the membrane of every cell in your body is made of fat,” Asprey says. “When you go on a low-fat diet, you limit the performance of so many key systems in your body that it’s no wonder you have cravings and feel tired.” ...
“I used to weigh 300 pounds,” Asprey tells Gotzler. “I worked out six days a week, and I cut my calories to around 1,800 calories per day for almost two years. And I was still fat. I’m eating salads and my friends are eating onion rings, and they’re still thin. I said, ‘This isn’t working.’” ...
Asprey found some low-mold beans from Guatemala and blended them with the coconut oil and grass-fed butter, which is higher in omega-3 fatty acid than regular butter or cream. It was delicious. Bulletproof coffee was born. Asprey envisioned the beverage as a 450-calorie breakfast alternative that would suppress hunger and provide mental clarity.
Sounds like a lot of the evidence we read that convinced us to move toward Atkins-type low-carb, high-fat diets. If only I could stop eating the cheap-carb, refined wheat, refined sugar things I find so tasty.
There's a math problem raging on Facebook that depends on the order of operations.
Too many smart people have memorized the mnemonic BEDMAS and misapply it.
These mnemonics may be misleading when written this way, especially if the user is not aware that multiplication and division are of equal precedence, as are addition and subtraction. Using any of the above rules in the order "addition first, subtraction afterward" would also give the wrong answer to the problem:
The correct answer is 9 (and not 5, which we get when we do the addition first and then the subtraction). The best way to understand a combination of addition and subtraction is to think of the subtraction as addition of a negative number. In this case, we see the problem as the sum of positive ten, negative three, and positive two:
A different perspective that might help clear things up: Within the multiplication and division groups, start at the left and work right. Similarly, within the addition and subtraction groups, start at the left and work to the right.
But I doubt if this will stop or slow the battles on Facebook.
If only people would Google things and look at Wikipaedia...
The inestimable Steve Horwitz writes on his FB page,
Ronald Bailey's prediction 15 years ago about what Earth Day will be like in 30 years continues to be on target. The world has never been cleaner and healthier, yet we are, according to the professional purveyors of doom, always on the edge of catastrophe. Or at least so says this screaming CNN Headline. http://www.cnn.com/…/…/sutter-climate-two-degrees/index.html
Instead, celebrate Earth Day by going to Cato's Human Progress website and get the real state of the planet.
Steve Horwitz posted this on Facebook. It is a wonderful suggestion:
[W]hen our environmentalist friends DO make predictions that can be falsified, they are often very wrong. I still maintain that Reason or some other libertarian organization should give an annual Paul Ehrlich Award to scholars whose predictions have turned out to be spectacularly wrong. (Ehrlich is ineligible as he'd win it every year.)
"Finally, think about this question, posed by Ronald Bailey in 2000: What will Earth look like when Earth Day 60 rolls around in 2030? Bailey predicts a much cleaner, and much richer future world, with less hunger and malnutrition, less poverty, and longer life expectancy, and with lower mineral and metal prices. But he makes one final prediction about Earth Day 2030: “There will be a disproportionately influential group of doomsters predicting that the future–and the present–never looked so bleak.” In other words, the hype, hysteria and spectacularly wrong apocalyptic predictions will continue, promoted by the “environmental grievance hustlers.”"
We are halfway there and Ron's predictions, unlike those of the doomsayers, have largely come to pass.
Steve then linked to this article.
18 spectacularly wrong apocalyptic predictions made around the time of the first Earth Day in 1970, expect more this year
As I mentioned earlier, I'm delighted that the Pope declared the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians to be a genocide. The evidence certainly suggests that it was.
Was it also a Jihad?
Jeff Jacoby suggests it had some pretty strong similarities to modern-day jihads.
Speaking at the Vatican during a Sunday Mass to mark the centenary of the slaughter, the pope said it is “widely considered the first genocide of the 20th century” — a quote from Pope John Paul II, who used nearly the same words in 2001. But Francis went further, equating the destruction of the Armenians to the Nazi Holocaust and the Soviet bloodbaths under Stalin. And he linked the genocidal Ottoman assault on Armenia, the world’s oldest Christian nation, with the epidemic of violence against Christians today, especially by such radical Islamist terror groups as ISIS, Boko Haram, and Al Shabab. ...
Talaat Pasha, the powerful Ottoman interior minister during World War I, certainly didn’t disguise his objective. “The Government . . . has decided to destroy completely all the indicated [Armenians] persons living in Turkey,” he brusquely reminded officials in Aleppo in a September 1915 dispatch. “An end must be put to their existence . . . and no regard must be paid to either age or sex, or to conscientious scruples.” ...
That key fact is one the pope, to his credit, refuses to downplay: Armenians were victims not only of genocide, but also of jihad. In imploring his listeners on Sunday to hear the “muffled and forgotten cry” of endangered Christians who today are “ruthlessly put to death — decapitated, crucified, burned alive — or forced to leave their homeland,” Francis was reminding the world that the price of irresolution in the face of determined Islamist violence is as steep as ever.
The jihadists of 1915 murdered “bishops and priests, religious women and men, the elderly, and even defenseless children and the infirm.” The world knew what was happening; the grisly details were extensively reported at the time. Just as they are now, and with as little effect.
However, see this from today's NYTimes, which agrees the conflict was between Muslims and Armenians, but which also highlights the political (more than the religious) nature of the genocide:
“They threw them in that hole, all the men,” said Vahit Sahin, 78, sitting at a cafe in the center of the village, reciting the stories that have passed through generations.
Mr. Sahin turned in his chair and pointed toward the monastery. “That side was Armenian.” He turned back. “This side was Muslim. At first, they were really friendly with each other.”
A hundred years ago, amid the upheaval of World War I, this village and countless others across eastern Anatolia became killing fields as the desperate leadership of the Ottoman Empire, having lost the Balkans and facing the prospect of losing its Arab territories as well, saw a threat closer to home.
Worried that the Christian Armenian population was planning to align with Russia, a primary enemy of the Ottoman Turks, officials embarked on what historians have called the first genocide of the 20th century: Nearly 1.5 million Armenians were killed, some in massacres like the one here, others in forced marches to the Syrian desert that left them starved to death.
The genocide was the greatest atrocity of the Great War.
Over a decade ago, my older son (aka David Ricardo Palmer) and I constructed this arch. It was displayed that spring at both the Bright's Grove and the Blyth art galleries.
Our artists' statement is a reflection of the existentialism inherent in the Myth of Sisyphus.
L' Arc des Perdants Anonymes
(The Arch of the Anonymous Losers):
A Celebration of the Existential Quest
Like many triumphal arches, this sculpture is a celebration. In this work, we celebrate the process of continued search and quest despite not reaching a specific goal or prize.
Constructed entirely of losing cups from the 2004 Tim Hortons "Roll Up the Rim to Win" contest, our work is rooted in the ontological search for meaning. People who search for meaning in life are often frustrated, feeling lost when they are unable to arrive at some clear and definitive sense of purpose. The existential answer lies in the joy and value of the search activity itself.
We see the experience of playing the Tim Horton lottery as a reflection of this search. People buy cups of coffee hoping to win a big prize. They lose. They go back for more. And the process makes people smile. This simple, day-to-day process is a symbolic representation of the joie de vivre that is evinced in the human experiential quest for meaning.
L' Arc des Perdants Anonymes is constructed with nearly 3000 used, losing cups from the Tim Hortons 2004 contest. The artists used approximately 10 pounds of glue sticks to construct the sections of the structure. These sections are held together in places with 3M hook and loop material. The artists gratefully acknowledge the assistance of their families and persons at their respective workplaces for their assistance.
For more photos and information, see this.
Ever since I read about the possibility of multiverses, I have been intrigued. Since then, I had imagined that the multiverses would exist because of the possibility that there are really 11 dimensions in the universe, but this article [via Jack] presents a different possibility: there are multiverses out there all within our given 3- or 4-dimensional universe but we don't see them because they are so far away their light could not have gotten to us yet.
Our definition of "the universe" has been changing since the invention of the first telescope when we peered out into the cosmos and learned that the Earth is not the totality of existence.
But the universe is a lot bigger than what we could ever see with a telescope.... Our universe is just the spherical amount of light that has had time to reach us. If we wait another billion years for more light to reach us, our definition of the universe would change... [emphasis added].
Someone standing on a planet trillions of lightyears away would have a completely different picture of "the universe" based on how much light has reached their planet.
By definition there's no way to get to these other bubble universes because we'd have to travel faster than the speed of light. [emphasis in the original].
What a neat perspective!
Most of us knew that the Crusades were undertaken to capture Jerusalem and Israel from the Muslims and that many, many Muslims were killed during those wars. What is less well-known is that the first major victims of the first Crusade were Europe's Jews.
This history is told eloquently here in the New York Times Sunday Review.
THE first victims of the First Crusade, inspired in 1096 by the supposedly sacred mission of retaking Jerusalem from Muslims, were European Jews. Anyone who considers it religiously and politically transgressive to compare the behavior of medieval Christian soldiers to modern Islamic terrorism might find it enlightening to read this bloody story, as told in both Hebrew and Christian chronicles. ...
Just as the Crusades were integrally linked to Roman Catholicism in the Middle Ages, terrorist movements today are immersed in a particular anti-modern interpretation of Islam. This does not imply that a majority of Muslims agree with violent religious ideology. It does mean that the terrorists’ brand of belief plays a critical role in their savage assault on human rights.
Cultural ignoramuses portrayed President Obama’s references to the Crusades and the Inquisition at the recent National Prayer Breakfast as an excuse for Islamic terrorism, but the president’s allusions could and should have been used as an opportunity to reflect on the special damage inflicted in many historical contexts by warriors seeking conquest in the name of their god.
The details set out there are appalling: Jews were forced to pay protection money, forcibly converted to Christianity, or exiled. Thousands were killed even after having paid extortionate protection money.
The Crusades turned into campaigns of slaughter, rape, and pillage, and woe to the poor Jews in the way. Indeed, the Crusades mark the first large-scale European mob violence directed against Jews which is going to become, unfortunately, the pattern for the next hundreds of years. The later pogroms are just going to be a repeat of this idea.
The Jews were not the only ― and in fact, not the primary ― victims of the Crusaders. Muslims were. ...
[A]bout 30%-50% of the Jewish community of Europe met its end. Some 10,000 Jews of an estimated population of about 20,000-30,000 were slaughtered by Crusaders mobs.
And the conclusion from the Sunday Review article:
What we actually see today is a standard of medieval behavior upheld by modern fanatics who, like the crusaders, seek both religious and political power through violent means. They offer a ghastly and ghostly reminder of what the Western world might look like had there never been religious reformations, the Enlightenment and, above all, the separation of church and state.
Janis Joplin's, "Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz" lampoons the misuses of religion and prayer, focusing on human greed. I thought it was great when I first heard it, and I still like it.
Numerous cartoonists have reacted to Islamic terrorist murder of the staff at a French publication that wrote satire, criticizing Islamic extremists. Many are summarized in the Washington Post.
My favourite captures the essence of the attacks on "Freedom of Expression".
Since I began blogging nearly a decade ago, I have argued that freedom of expression must take precedence when it conflicts with freedom of (or from) religion. Perhaps it is because I'm an academic; perhaps it is because I am mostly non-religious. But whenever I see any religious group try to stifle expression, including satire of their religion or their leader, I am upset and concerned.
The latest incident involves murders of at least 12 people in France because of cartoons like this and the proposed issue making fun of sharia law:
"100 lashes if you don't die of laughter" is what some people say is the proper translation.
Hooded gunmen shot dead at least 12 people at the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical publication firebombed in the past after publishing images lampooning Muslim leaders, in the worst militant attack on French soil in recent decades.
Another 20 people were injured, including five critically, in the incident. Police union official Rocco Contento described the scene inside the offices as "carnage."
Conor Friedersdorf, writing in the Atlantic, marvels not that Obama's approval rating is "only" 42%; he says it should not be even that high [via Ralph]:
[H]ere's what I find alarming: Confronted with a president who 1) spied on every American; 2) covered up torture; 3) continued a War on Drugs ruinous to minorities and whole foreign nations; 4) killed hundreds of innocents in drone strikes; 5) waged war illegally and killed an American citizen without due process (while suppressing the legal reasoning used to do so); 6) let high-ranking national-security officials break the law with impunity; and 7) persecuted whistleblowers—confronted with all of those transgressions, more than four in 10 Americans still approve of the job Obama is doing. And most of them are loyal Democrats. Partisanship and tribalism are overriding the moral compass of too many liberals, who ought to be furious with Obama. National-security policies he unilaterally pursued will be harming the U.S., its moral standing, and its most vulnerable citizens for years if not decades to come, especially since Democrats are poised to make civil illibertarian Hillary Clinton their party's next leader.
And these points do not include his cozying up with Muslim fanatics, Benghazi, the devastation of health care for so many people now reduced to part-time jobs, and the cronyism with Goldman Sachs and others on Wall Street.
Fifty years ago I was content with the concept of an infinite universe --- infinite in time and space. Then I started learning about expansion, deflation, the big bang, string theory, parallel universes, 11 dimensions, criticisms of string theory, etc.
I was shaken from my contentedness by the turmoil and uncertainty of it all. Ms Eclectic and I began reading more and watching more PBS-type television programmes about cosmology. I cannot even pretend to understand the mathematics and all the physics of cosmology [mired, as I am, in my basic Newtonian world outlook which struggles for even/especially/only an intuitive grasp of relativity and quantum physics], but I love trying to understand cosmology.
And so it is with pleasure and delight that I read this article [via RalphK]. It doesn't really help me understand cosmology any better, but it is a fascinating expansion of human knowledge about the earth, the Milky Way, and the universe.
[O]ur galaxy is a mere speck in a larger structure, which was just revealed for the first time by a group of scientists who created a map of more than 8,000 galaxies in an effort to understand where they fit in the universe.
The team placed the Milky Way on the outskirts of a massive, previously unknown galaxy super-cluster scientists have named Laniakea, from the Hawaiian words for "immeasurable heaven."
The finding, reported in this week's issue of the journal Nature, stems from a new mapping technique that combines not only the distances between more than 8,000 nearby galaxies, but also their motion as the universe expands and galaxies are pulled through space by gravity.
It sort of looks as if we're in suburbs of Laniakea:
Note that this is a two-dimensional map of what is surely 3 or 4 (or more?) dimensions. Where were these galaxies and other clusters 5 billion years ago? and is this a map of where astronomers think they are now or where they were when they emitted the light we see now?
"Immeasurable Heaven", Laniakea, is a good term. I like it. And I'm thrilled with the increased understanding of the universe even if this understanding means little or nothing to our lives and struggles on earth.
Jack sent me this article from Weird News (in Huffington Press). I know I'm being juvenile but I loved the writing and the comments.
Here is the church:
And some excerpts from the article:
Some of the comments are pretty funny.
I wonder if the US is just hoping that after the Egyptian military takes power, they'll become nice guys (eventually), stop killing the opposition, and (eventually) hold free elections, and (eventually) with proper guidance from smart economists, the economy will grow and people will be much better off.
After all, isn't that what happened in Chile? Pinochet and military had the socialists ousted from office and, in the process, many were killed. But eventually with help from many bright economists the economy grew much faster than it possibly could have under Allende and the socialists, and eventually democracy was restored.
But the Muslim Brotherhood is not the socialists of Chile. Its members are not nearly so likely to give in, be swallowed up, and become part of the mainstream. I hope the US is not being myopic in its strategic planning about what to do and how to react to the recent military coup and the killings of people from just about every group by members of just about every other group.
(from JR, my favourite drug dealer)
From the BBC: (via Jack)
The smoke comes partly from the burning of ballot papers in a special stove in the chapel. But to colour it white or black, this smoke is mixed with that from chemical additives burnt in a second stove. Traditionally the Vatican produced the different colours by burning wet straw for white and tarry pitch for black.
Anyone who has ever made a bonfire knows that damp grass will work for the former; the less responsible of you will know that chucking old tyres or roofing felt into the flames will turn the smoke black – and what’s more, noxious, because it is then full of sooty carbon particles that can clog the lungs and are potentially carcinogenic.
It’s not concern for the environment that has led the Vatican to change its ways, however. Rather, the smoke in some previous elections came out an ambiguous grey, prompting the decision for the last conclave in 2005 to use a more reliable method based on chemical ingredients.
The Vatican has now revealed what these are. For black, it uses a mixture of potassium perchlorate, anthracene and sulphur; white comes from potassium chlorate, lactose and the conifer resin called rosin, which is often rubbed on violin bows to increase friction.
Wilders is a well-known public figure who sees Islam as more of an ideology than a religion. During his talk, he lambasted multiculturalism. Two quotes:
Multiculturalism is the biggest disease in Europe today.
And the reason for that?
Multiculturalism would not have been such a catastrophe if it weren't for Islam.
Because of his views, his public statements, his film, and his policy proposals, Wilders' life is constantly in danger. The organizers of the evening event, the International Free Press Society, refused to advertise the dates and locations of his talks while he is in Canada. Instead, we found out about them through word-of-mouth and then had to register before receiving the information [he does have two more talks planned while he is in Canada, in case you are interested; the information is available at the IFPS website].
Accompanying Wilders were about 10 security personnel from The Netherlands; also the RCMP had a large security contingent on hand. We all went through a security check before being admitted to the place where he spoke.
This is just plain wrong. People speaking about religion and ideology should not live in fear for their lives and the lives of their friends and families.
The warm-up act for Wilders was a dialogue between Ezra Levant (of human rights and freedom of the press fame in Canada) and Sam Solomon, a noted scholar of Islam and Sharia Law; it was mostly an interview of Solomon by Levant. During that interview, Solomon (who converted to Christianity and was at times quite coy about his past) proclaimed,
If you do not hate, you cannot be a complete Muslim.
Both Wilders and Solomon are very outspoken critics of Islam.
Here is a photo I took of Solomon and Levant ( all my photos from the event: twelve-times optical zoom, no flash, from about 50 feet away):
The session was introduced by Bjorn Larsen, who recently filmed a documentary about Caledonia, freedom, and property rights and who heads up the IFPS:
One more photo of Wilders, who was extremely engaging and compelling as a speaker:
One would expect that as capital becomes relatively less expensive, all sorts of organizations, profit and non-profit alike, would find it reasonable to use more capital and less labour. It has even happened with confession in the Catholic church.
While there have been several apps for the iPhone or iPad developed dealing with confession, a recently developed and upgraded app has received the stamp of approval from the Vatican [via CBC News, h/t Ms. Eclectic]:
The app "is not intended to function as a replacement for confession" at church," [the developer] said in an email to CBC News.
Instead, it is supposed to help people prepare for confession and is designed to be used in the confessional, the booth in church where people sit while confessing to a priest, he said.
The app walks people through confession step by step, based on text developed in collaboration with Catholic pastor Dan Scheidt and U.S. Catholic official Thomas G. Weinandy.
It reminds users when their last confessions were and keeps track of sins they have previously confessed.
It also advertises features such as password protection to allow multiple users, a "custom examination of conscience" based on age, sex and marital status, the ability to add sins that aren't listed and a choice of seven different acts of contrition — prayers that express sorrow for sins.
However, absolution or release from the sin can still only come from a priest.
The app substitutes for labour only to some extent, namely in preparing people for the confessional. It thus both reduces the necessary time for the confession and improves the quality of the confession.
I briefly looked through the other iApps dealing with the Catholic confession, and it appears none of them offers a fully automated confessional service.
But why not? Why can't apps be written that ask enough questions and then behave as a priest hearing a confession might behave in making recommendations? Is there any reason (other than job protection?) that confession cannot be fully automated and free up priests to do other aspects of God's work with their extra time?
One thing for sure: if I were a Catholic and if I used this app, I would make sure it was extremely carefully password-protected!
John Chilton (The Emirates Economist) has a recent posting about polygamy in Canada.
These are societies that close themselves off from the world and construct codes and practices that perpetuate polygyny. Like teenage boys being exiled from the community. Child brides. Denying girls an education that would make leaving more attractive. Parents, particularly fathers, determining who their daughters will marry. A system of institutions, values, brainwashing and beliefs is created to keep women in check. Add to this that men are physically stronger. It's curious of course that women in these cult societies very often defend them. I won't pretend to understand that, but we do know that many of us have a tendency to defend what we have lived especially if we have been taught that there is evil outside your community and your community is under siege.
For my own musings on the topic several years ago, see this, where I added
As a male who would likely have risked being left without a partner in a society that permitted polygamy, I am understandably opposed to polygamy out of pure self-interest. It strikes me that in a society of free choice, permitting polygamy only increases the demand for women as potential marriage partners, thus making women better off relative to men, in comparison with the situation under monogamy [a point also discussed by John Chilton]. ...
For more on the economics of polygamy, see this chapter in David Friedman's Price Theory text, especially the first portion of the chapter.
My sister and I have had some recent e-mail exchanges about this cover from the Saturday Evening Post (Dec 12, 1953). We both recall that it was posted somewhere in our church Sunday school above verse 11 from I Corinthians 13 (which we were all supposed to memorize, as I recall).
When I was a child, I spoke as a child,
I understood as a child, I thought as a child:
but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
Digression #1. Speaking personally, and given that one of my favourite sayings is "You're never to old to have a happy childhood", I really doubt that I have put away very many metaphoric childish things.
Digression #2. I see the cover price of the Saturday Evening Post in 1953 was 15 cents, about three times the price of a standard candy bar or bottle of pop. The Post died long ago, but are there many or any weeklies with its quality and reputation that have a cover price of only $3 today (triple the very roughly standard $1 price for pop or candy bars)? And even if there are, does anyone care? (I have changed my subscription to The Economist to receive just electronic, not dead-tree issues).