Friday, February 08, 2008

The Death of Main Street

Are big chains to blame, or is excessive regulation?

Middle-school Meth

Question: does anti-drug education work?

It’s not as if schools are attempting to counteract all the attractive ads from Mexican Amphetamine Promotion League (“It’s Basement Fresh!”) with their cool Joe Meth character.

Repressed Memory: A Cultural Symptom?

In a recent study, professor of psychiatry Harrison Pope, co-director of the Biological Psychiatry Lab at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital, put “repressed memory” to the test of time: he set out to find the earliest recorded example of a “repressed memory.”

The survey yielded various nineteenth-century instances: best known were A Tale of Two Cities (1859), by Charles Dickens, in which Dr. Manette forgets that he is a physician after his incarceration in the Bastille, and Captains Courageous (1896), by Rudyard Kipling, in which “Penn,” a former minister, loses his memory after his family perishes in a flood and recalls that trauma only after being involved in a collision at sea. But the survey turned up no examples from pre-modern sources.

Who will rid us of this troublesome priest?

Where is Santayana when you need him? What, I wonder, would he have had to say about Archbishop Williams’s declaration earlier today that the adoption of Islamic Sharia law in Britain is “unavoidable.” In a widely reported lecture on BBC radio 4 the Archbishop called for a “constructive accommodation with some aspects of Muslim law” and said that Britons must “face up to the fact” that some of its citizens do not “relate” to the British legal system. “Constructive accommodation”: let’s see, I guess that is British English for “spineless capitulation”?

And what is all this about Muslim Brits not “relating” to the law? The rule of law is is not a lifestyle choice: it is not something you can opt out of if you happen to have alternative inclinations. “Gee, in my religion, we stone adulteresses to death, so would you mind stepping aside and handing me that pile of rocks?”

The proper answer to such gambits was formulated in the 19th century by General Charles Napier when dealing with sutte, the Indian custom of burning a widow on her husband’s funeral pyre: “You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.”