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Douthat on Hume and Woods


Ross Douthat's excellent take on the over-reaction to Brit Hume's altar call:

The knee-jerk outrage that greeted Hume's remarks buried intelligent responses from Buddhists, who made arguments along these lines -- explaining their faith, contrasting it with Christianity, and describing how a lost soul like Woods might use Buddhist concepts to climb from darkness into light.

When liberal democracy was forged, in the wake of Western Europe's religious wars, this sort of peaceful theological debate is exactly what it promised to deliver. And the differences between religions are worth debating. Theology has consequences: It shapes lives, families, nations, cultures, wars; it can change people, save them from themselves, and sometimes warp or even destroy them.

If we tiptoe politely around this reality, then we betray every teacher, guru and philosopher -- including Jesus of Nazareth and the Buddha both -- who ever sought to resolve the most human of all problems: How then should we live?

It's reasonable to doubt that a cable news analyst has the right answer to this question. But the debate that Brit Hume kicked off a week ago is still worth having. Indeed, it's the most important one there is.

There is a tension here between religious tolerance and religious dialogue. Believers of all faiths who aspire to any kind of orthodoxy are often scolded that they need to be more tolerant of other religions. Simultaneously, believers and non-believers alike see the need for and value of religious dialogue. Yet when Hume suggests in about the gentlest way possible that Jesus Christ, whom Hume presumably holds to be Lord and Savior of all men, might offer one particular man some answers, heads start exploding.

You can argue that Hume is wrong on the question of Buddhism's teachings, but to scold him for bringing it up is to mock the concept of dialogue. To see how rational this is, I'll only point out that people who riot and kill when the pope quotes Byzantine emperors also mock the concept of dialogue.

The other argument that could be made is that an individual's personal faith, as opposed to religion in general, is something so intensely private that we shouldn't discuss it in public. This is clearly absurd, as is evidenced by the fact that Mark Sanford's intensely private beliefs sure seemed to be legitimate public fodder last year. It's also a bit of a laugher since the media have no problem discussing Woods' sexual life, trotting out his mistresses, publishing his text messages, speculating about his marriage, psychoanalyzing him from every conceivable angle and offering dimestore advice over how to handle the P.R. disaster, maintain his focus on his career and save his marriage. All this, and yet a bit of spiritual advice is outside the bounds of acceptable discourse.

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Cap'n Sully


The NYRB has a review of a book on "The Miracle on the Hudson" with a fascinating account of the landing:

A man in the back had the poise and presence of mind to call out, "Exit row people, get ready!" A woman mid-plane with a baby boy on her lap did not know what to do. The man next to her asked if he could brace her son for her, and she passed the child to him, and he did.

In the cockpit the ground warning alarm had begun, an automatic voice repeating that the plane was too low. Sullenberger called for the flaps on the wings to be extended in order to slow the plane for impact. At two hundred feet he began breaking his glide and ballooned a little. They were at 150 knots--about 180 miles an hour. He lowered the nose slightly and then, pulling back on the stick in the last few seconds before touching down, his airspeed spent, remarked coolly to Skiles, "Got any ideas?"

"Actually not," Skiles said.

They touched the water at an optimum angle, nose slightly high, 120 knots. The left engine tore away, the plane's belly ripped open toward the rear, and the aircraft skimmed to a stop. There was such heavy spray that the passengers near the windows thought they had gone entirely underwater.

The evacuation of the plane was all one could hope for. Water entered quickly. There was an eighty-five-year-old woman who needed a walker, plus several children aboard. In the rear, the floor had buckled and a beam had broken through. There was more water there; it rose to almost chest-high before everyone was out. The flight had been sold out--only one empty seat. The flight attendants, three women all in their fifties, were exemplary. Doreen Welsh, the oldest, in the rear, had the greatest difficulties and was seriously injured. People tried to swim in the river, some slipped into the water and were pulled back, all ended up standing on the wings, some waist deep in water, or in the inflated slides and rafts. Sullenberger and Skiles had all along been moving through the cabin assisting and handing out life vests. In the end Sullenberger went through the deep water in the cabin one last time to make certain no one was left. The water was bone-chillingly cold, but within five minutes the first of the rescue boats was at the plane. There had been no casualties. All survived.

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Give that man an award

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If our president can find it in his heart to award the highest honor he can give an American civilian to numskulls like George Tenet and Paul Bremer, than surely he can spare a Presidential Medal of Freedom for Harry Markopolos, the man who, for no other reason than the desire to see an SOB get nailed, tried for nearly a decade to tell the SEC that Bernie Madoff was a fraud.

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Dude, that is sooo 1990

Some students at Centennial High School* have shaved vertical lines into their eyebrows in a trend recently made popular by hip-hop star Soulja Boy. School officials say the mark looks like a gang symbol.

Centennial administrators are telling students with the lines that they can't return to school until they shave their eyebrows off. Assistant Principal Mark Porterfield said the students are not suspended, but they are not allowed in school until they cooperate.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I hear:

Stop, collaborate and listen
Ice is back with a brand new invention
Something, grabs a hold of me tightly
Flow like a hawk move daily and nightly
Will it ever stop? Yo I don't know
Turn off the light, and I'll glow
To the extreme, I rock the mic like a vandal
Light up the stage and wax a chump like candle

OK, that was off the top of my head. It's too bad these teenagers don't realize they're aping a style pioneered by one of the most ridiculed rappers of all time. That could put a swift end to the practice.

Found at The Daily Eudemon.

* This is not Centennial in Champaign.

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First thing, let's kill all the scientists


The hotter the field of research the more likely its published findings should be viewed skeptically, he determined.

Take the discovery that the risk of disease may vary between men and women, depending on their genes. Studies have prominently reported such sex differences for hypertension, schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis, as well as lung cancer and heart attacks. In research published last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. Ioannidis and his colleagues analyzed 432 published research claims concerning gender and genes.

Upon closer scrutiny, almost none of them held up. Only one was replicated...

Statistically speaking, science suffers from an excess of significance. Overeager researchers often tinker too much with the statistical variables of their analysis to coax any meaningful insight from their data sets. "People are messing around with the data to find anything that seems significant, to show they have found something that is new and unusual," Dr. Ioannidis said.

via Fra Angelico

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The awesomest take on the hostage release


From Steve Sailer:

As your mother might say, "Now, isn't that nicer than fighting WWIII?" This was shaping up to be the stupidest conflict since the War of Jenkin's Ear, but, fortunately, sanity prevailed, although, as happens distressingly frequently, Iran's President Borat gets to act saner than America's President Bush.

President Borat! That's better than anything Mark Steyn has come up with.

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That's one way to do it


Phillipines preschool director takes kids hostage to demand more funding.

The school head who identified himself as Jun Ducat, has called a Manila radio station and demanded free education as well as free housing for a group of 145 preschoolers at Musmos Day Care Centre he runs in the city's depressed Tondo district, including the hostages.

In his radio discourse, Ducat pledged to "surrender" peacefully if his demands were met. "I love these children,” he said “that's why I am here. I will not start any shooting”.

Senator Alfredo Lim, a former Manila police chief, said Mr Ducat has a history of seeking attention. He held hostage two Catholic priests elsewhere in Manila in 1987 using fake grenades over a building contract dispute. The priests were later freed unharmed. “I'm sure this will end peacefully as well,” he said.

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"It is exceedingly unlikely that shareholder groups can do a better job of hiring directors than search committees and the professional executive search firms on which they rely."

Phil Kerpen of NRO, writing two weeks after Home Depot had to shell out nine figures to get rid of their failed CEO, has come out squarely against owners having rights. The AFSCME wants to be able to nominate candidates for AIG's board of directors. Kerpen calls this a "threat to Capitalism." To Kerpen, for a 3% stake-holder to throw out a name that still has to be voted on by the owners of the other 97% is the first step on the long, slippery road to socialism.

The problem of course is that Kerpen is not as much troubled by owners having rights as much as he is appalled and horrified that those who labor and sweat on behalf of corporate America only to have their companies go bankrupt and their pensions flushed down the CEO's platinum pisser actually could have a say in corporate governance.

So, the question is... just what does stock ownership mean if not having a say in who runs the company?

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Firm contracted to build border fence busted for hiring illegal immigrants.

More proof that nobody actually responsible for border control takes it seriously.

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Papa-Lu the Luddite


Please forgive me a spat of technophobia as I note with fear, loathing and stomach-churning horror that Google, Intel, BP (?), Wal-Mart (!!!) and Pitney Bowes are all salivating at the opportunity to get in on the barely-nascent medical records market.

Yes, that's what we need, Google, archiver of all every search request you perform, getting their hands anywhere near medical data.

My heart... my heart....

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Culture Wars, Euro-style


The Economist has analysis of recent "values" debates in various European countries. Missing from their analysis is any mention of Pope Benedict XVI and his ongoing efforts to restore Christian values to the center of Europe's identity.

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Ex-Spy Poisoning


This is for Mama-Lu:

BBC story on death of Litvinenko, with a number of additional stories linked on the side.

More from the NYTimes.

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Almost time for a shotgun and bottled water


Bird flu comes one step closer to wiping out humanity.

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Sinai in L.A.


The Economist has a preview of an upcoming exhibit at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles that will feature items from Egypt's Holy Monastery of St. Catherine, home to Orthodox monks living their vocation in the Sinai desert.

Here is the Webpage of the exhibit.

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Jerry Lee Lewis is Still Alive


And he has a new album. Here he is on NPR playing some some of his oldies.

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Don't Mess With Texas


Man shows up at Dallas playground with "adult" pictures, receives a**-whipping.

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Mama-Lu's Etsy Shop

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