Something to check out on my next road trip.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Michael Pollan has a new book, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto. One of his points seems to be that nutritonal "science" is in its infancy, and that it has little to tell us about what to eat. He recommends eating whatever you grandmother would have cooked. Sounds like my kind of book.
Scientists at Advanced Cell Technology announced yesterday that they've derived colonies of stem cells from human embryos without doing any damage to those original embryos.
If this pans out it'll be a very big deal-promising major medical advances without the ethical dilemmas inherent in embryonic stem cell research.
Where capitalism delivers but cannot inspire, socialism inspires despite never having delivered. Socialism’s history is littered with repeated failures and with human misery on a massive scale, yet it still attracts smiles rather than curses from people who never had to live under it.
The white liberals who will decide the Democratic race are genuinely excited about the prospect of an African-American elected president.
They are equally, if not more, desperate not to be considered racist. But never underestimate the ability of a liberal to rationalize.
On the one hand they yearn to prove themselves racially virtuous; on the other hand is their conviction that other less enlightened Americans can't be trusted to give a black candidate a fair shake. On the one hand they claim to be champions of minorities; on the other they have developed a reflexive instinct to protect rather than promote minorities.
But won't guilty white liberals turn to Obama as a sacrament of racial absolution? Not necessarily.
Deep down, guilty white liberals feel guilty about other people's attitudes and behavior, not their own. To the contrary they are smugly certain of their own racial virtue; in fact, (they will tell themselves) they care so deeply about black people that they feel an obligation to protect them from an unenlightened electorate. Don't be surprised if many white liberals end up voting against Obama, while telling themselves they are doing it because they are so supportive of minority aspirations.
That's Obama's racial problem.
At least that's what The New York Times would like you to believe. Unfortunately for the Times, the numbers just don't add up.
Do the math: the 121 alleged instances of homicide identified by the Times, out of a population of 700,000, works out to a rate of 17 per 100,000--quite a bit lower than the overall national rate of around 27.
But wait! The national rate of 27 homicides per 100,000 is an annual rate, whereas the Times' 121 alleged crimes were committed over a period of six years. Which means that, as far as the Times' research shows, the rate of homicides committed by military personnel who have returned from Iraq or Afghanistan is only a fraction of the homicide rate for other Americans aged 18 to 24. Somehow, the Times managed to publish nine pages of anecdotes about the violence wreaked by returning servicemen without ever mentioning this salient fact.
No one is going to produce proof that Jesus Christ did not rise from the grave three days after the Crucifixion, of course. Humankind will choose to believe or not that God revealed Himself in this fashion. But Islam stands at risk of a Da Vinci Code effect, for in Islam, God's self-revelation took the form not of the Exodus, nor the revelation at Mount Sinai, nor the Resurrection, but rather a book, namely the Koran. The Encyclopaedia of Islam (1982) observes, "The closest analogue in Christian belief to the role of the Koran in Muslim belief is not the Bible, but Christ." The Koran alone is the revelatory event in Islam.
What if scholars can prove beyond reasonable doubt that the Koran was not dictated by the Archangel Gabriel to the Prophet Mohammad during the 7th century, but rather was redacted by later writers drawing on a variety of extant Christian and Jewish sources? That would be the precise equivalent of proving that the Jesus Christ of the Gospels really was a composite of several individuals, some of whom lived a century or two apart.
Via Ace of Spades
The idea is so appealing: We can reduce our dependence on oil—stop sending U.S. dollars to corrupt petro-dictators, stop spewing megatons of carbon into the atmos¬phere—by replacing it with clean, home-grown, all-American corn. It sounds too good to be true.
Sadly, it is.