- ► 2011 (91)
- ► 2010 (295)
- ► 2009 (235)
- ► 2008 (116)
- ▼ Oct 2007 (5)
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Theodore Dalrymple, possibly THE best writer of our time, recently wrote a piece in the City Journal entitled "What the New Atheists Don't See." In it, he reviews some of the recent books that have come out in praise of atheism (or in disdain of God, ironically enough). Dalrymple is himself not a believer, but does tend to be very gracious toward religions, especially Christianity. Mr. Dalrymple is at his best when he's dissecting another's arguments and refuting them. And here is no exception, tackling "Breaking the Spell," "The God Delusion," and "The End of Faith;" written by Dennett, Dawkins, and Harris, respectively. Since this column is quite long, I will let you read it for yourself in its entirety at the link above. However, I did want to point out a passage that Dalrymple quotes from Joseph Hall, a Christian bishop of Norwich in the 17th century. Hall's writing is titled "Upon the Sight of a Harlot Carted," and it entails an eloquent meditation on the spirit behind Christ's statement that the one without sin should cast the first stone.
With what noise, and tumult, and zeal of solemn justice, is this sin punished! The streets are not more full of beholders, than clamours. Every one strives to express his detestation of the fact, by some token of revenge: one casts mire, another water, another rotten eggs, upon the miserable offender. Neither, indeed, is she worthy of less: but, in the mean time, no man looks home to himself. It is no uncharity to say, that too many insult in this just punishment, who have deserved more. . . . Public sins have more shame; private may have more guilt. If the world cannot charge me of those, it is enough, that I can charge my soul of worse. Let others rejoice, in these public executions: let me pity the sins of others, and be humbled under the sense of my own.May I be as gracious toward others and their sin as the Bishop Hall reminded himself to be nearly 400 years ago.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
John Leo has a nice short essay regarding free speech and the lack thereof on college campuses.
Troy Scheffler, a graduate student at Hamline University in Minnesota, thinks that the Virginia Tech massacre might have been avoided if students had been allowed to carry concealed weapons. After e-mailing this opinion to the university president, he was suspended and ordered to undergo "mental health evaluation" before being allowed to return to school.
Punishment for expressing an opinion is not unusual on the modern campus. Neither is the lack of protest among faculty and students for the kind of treatment Scheffler got. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which is defending the student, reports that it has failed to find a single Hamline student or faculty member who has spoken out in favor of Scheffler's right to free speech. So far, no protest from has been reported in the student newspaper or in outside internet outlets such as Myspace.
Free speech has a very small constituency on the modern campus, particularly if the speaker under attack is conservative. Lawrence Summers, former president of Harvard, is certainly no conservative, but he had run afoul of the campus left on many issues, not just the heavily publicized one of women in science (suggesting more campus respect for patriotism and the return of ROTC to Harvard, warning the "coastal elites" that they have drifted too far from the American mainstream). So when feminists managed to cancel Summers as a speaker before the University of California board of regents, there was scarcely a peep of protest.
A similar silence greeted the cancellation of a speech by Minuteman leader Jim Gilchrist at Columbia University. Gilchrist and a colleague were driven off the stage at Columbia last year by angry radicals. Gilchrist was reinvited a month ago, but when the speech was announced, campus Hispanics, who consider him racist for opposing the flood of illegals into the country, pressured the relevant student authorities to ban him. The campus chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union thought about protesting but decided not to. Again, I was able to find only one professor willing to say that silencing Gilchrist was a bad idea. I asked Gilchrist if there were more. He said he knows of no other instructor who spoke out. The campus joke is that Gilchrist should have come out in favor killing gays and nuking Israel. Then he would have been as welcome as Mahoud Amadinejad.
The campus rule of thumb is that if someone on the liberal side is disinvited or punished for speech, the left will howl - and the right will usually howl too. This is what happened when the University of St. Thomas disinvited Archbishop Desmond Tutu for making remarks critical of Israel. After protests from across the political spectrum, he was reinvited. A better example is the hiring and almost immediate firing of liberal Duke law professor Erwin Chemerinsky as dean of a new law school at the University of California, Irvine. A huge number of conservatives protested, including professors and virtually the whole first string of nationally known conservative and libertarian bloggers. Chemerinsky was rehired.
The process doesn't work in reverse - with liberals protesting the silencing of a conservative. It's one of the most obvious flaws of the modern PC university.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
I was going to grab some lunch this Wednesday, and I caught Dennis Prager introducing his guest, Dr. William Gray. This is the same guy that I've mentioned before who is THE premier hurricane forecaster in the world, and is an anthropogenic global warming skeptic. Here is the interview.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
In response to the announcement that Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize (joining such past noted winners as Yasser Arafat, Kofi Annan, Mikhail Gorbachev, Le Duc Tho, Anwar al Sadat, and Jimmy Carter), Mark Steyn wrote this column:
A COUPLE of days before Al Gore was awarded his Nobel Peace prize, Michael Burton, an English High Court judge and apparently a fine film critic, ruled that Al's Oscar-winner An Inconvenient Truth was prone to "alarmism and exaggeration" and identified nine major factual errors.
For example, the former vice-president predicts a rise in sea levels of 6m "in the near future". "The Armageddon scenario he predicts," declared Burton, "is not in line with the scientific consensus."
I'll say. The so-called scientific consensus of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggests rising sea levels across the next century of somewhere between 15cm and 60cm, with about 30cm being most likely. An Inconvenient Truth insouciantly adds a zero to the worst-case scenario.
A schoolkid in Ontario was complaining the other day that, whatever subject you do, you have to sit through Gore's movie: It turns up in biology class, in geography, in physics, in history, in English.
Whatever you're studying, it's all you need to know. It fulfils the same role in the schoolhouses of the guilt-ridden developed world that the Koran does in Pakistani madrassas. Gore's rise is as remorseless as those sea levels. I assumed Gore's clammy embrace would do for the environmental movement what his belated endorsement had done for Howard Dean's 2004 presidential candidacy: kill it stone dead. But governor Dean was constrained by actual humdrum prosaic vote tallies in Iowa and New Hampshire. The ecochondriacs, by contrast, seem happiest when they're most unmoored from reality.
That's where Gore comes in. No matter how you raise the stakes ("It might take another 30 Kyotos", says Jerry Mahlman of the National Centre for Atmospheric Research), Saint Al of the Ecopalypse can raise them higher. Climate change, he says, is the most important moral, ethical, spiritual and political issue humankind has ever faced. Ever. And not just humankind, but alienkind, too. "We are," warns Gore, "altering the balance of energy between our planet and the rest of the universe".
Wow. It's not just the Maldive Islands, but the balance of energy between Earth and the rest of the universe. You wouldn't happen to have the stats on that, would you? Universal "balance of energy" graphs for 1940 and 1873? Gore is the logical reductio of what the popular Australian blogger Tim Blair calls global warm-mongering: Worst-case scenario, with all the zeroes you want on the end, and then a few more for holes in the ozone layer as yet undreamt of. Anyone can, as the environmentalists advise, think globally and act locally, but only Gore thinks cosmically and acts not at all.
One can forgive youthful indiscretions, like his 1988 presidential candidacy, when he became the first and only politician in US history to hire a herd of cows for the launch of his campaign, positioning them attractively around him for the photo op at the supposed Gore "family farm". The contribution to global warming from increased methane from bovine flatulence in the Gore neighbourhood was no doubt "offset" by reduced flatulent emissions from whichever farm he'd hired the cows from: it was, in that sense, a "carbon-neutral" event.
But since then there's been a pronounced pattern of behaviour. In 2000, it was revealed that his tenant, Tracy Mayberry, has asked her distinguished landlord to fix the plumbing. The toilet overflowed and the tank was held together by bread bag ties. This was after Gore had inflicted federal toilet regulations on the rest of the country in the interest of water conservancy, yet he let his own tenant's lavatory overflow for months on end. Americans have to make do with cisterns that hold less than a supersized cup at McDonald's, but Environmental Boy had a Niagara-sized torrent running through his tenants' bathroom and down the stairs 24 hours a day.
An isolated incident? Well, the average US household consumes 10,656 kilowatt-hours of electricity. In 2006, the Gores wolfed down nearly 221,000kWh.
221,000kWh? What's he doing in there? As his spokesperson explained it, his high energy usage derives from his brave calls for low energy usage. He's burning up all that electricity by sending out faxes every couple of minutes urging you wastrels to use less electricity. Insofar as he's made any contribution to global peace, it's in persuading large swaths of a narcissistic Western world to busy itself with non-solutions to pseudo-crises to such a distracting degree that al-Qa'ida may wind up imposing the global caliphate without having to fire a shot.
Meanwhile, Gore is now being urged to jump into the presidential race and save Democrats from the allegedly too-hawkish Hillary Clinton. I doubt he will.
But you'll know he's considering it if he starts slimming down faster than the Antarctic shelf. When Al Gore starts getting carb-neutral, we're really in trouble.