This is a fascinating, illuminating, and myth-debunking lecture from neurologist Robert Sapolsky.  He goes through a number of features of our nature, shows how they are shared with other animals and how we take these features to another level.  And in the end it’s paradoxical and inspirational. It’s long but worth the time. Thanks to AtheisTube for the heads up! Your Thoughts? Read more

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Good for President Carter: After more than 60 years together, Jimmy Carter has announced himself at odds with the Southern Baptist Church — and he’s decided it’s time they go their separate ways. Via Feministing, the former president called the decision “unavoidable” after church leaders prohibited women from being ordained and insisted women be “subservient to their husbands.” Said Carter in an essay in The Age: [It was an] unavoidable decision when the convention’s leaders, quoting a few carefully selected… Read more

Greenwald is scathing on the media in general and takes the late Tim Russert to be the avatar of all that is wrong with them: Tellingly, his most celebrated and significant moment — Greg Mitchell says “this broadcast would help save many thousands of lives, U.S. and Vietnamese, perhaps even a million” — was when he stood up and announced that Americans shouldn’t trust the statements being made about the war by the U.S. Government and military, and that the… Read more

From the ACLU’s blog of rights: In a victory for free speech and academic discourse, last week the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower-court decision upholding the government’s exclusion of Swiss scholar Tariq Ramadan from the United States. Professor Ramadan, a leading scholar of the Muslim world, was offered a tenured professorship at the University of Notre Dame in 2004, but could not take up the post because the government revoked his U.S. visa. The government initially justified… Read more

LZ Granderson paints an ugly picture (thanks to jackandjillpolitics): Despite the catchiness of the slogan, gay is not the new black. Black is still black. And if any group should know this, it’s the gay community. Bars such as The Prop House, or Bulldogs in Atlanta, Georgia, exist because a large number of gay blacks — particularly those who date other blacks, and live in the black community — do not feel a part of the larger gay movement. There… Read more

I love a great review.  In what follows Peter Suderman manages to sum up the core problem of Snyder’s film version of Watchmen in less a paragraph: The sensibility behind it is puerile in the extreme. Say what you will about Moore and his book, at least he had a story to tell and something to say. Snyder, on the other hand, just had something to repeat. Watching his movie bears no small resemblance to being harangued about Objectivism by… Read more

Business ethicist Chris MacDonald is opting to skip the Pope’s new encylcical despite its high profile attempts to discuss the ethics of how business is done.  The reason? my main reason not to bother with the Pope’s new essay — with all due respect to my friends among the several hundred million Catholics in the world — is that he’s writing from a particularly isolated sub-branch of one moral tradition, and the Pope’s particular train of thought is one that… Read more

The study: Scientists in Montreal have discovered that not all human cells are identical, a surprising observation that could turn genetic research upside down. For years, scientists have worked on the assumption that, when it comes to DNA, every cell in the body is essentially similar to every other cell. But the results of a study published in the July issue of the journal Human Mutation show there are major genetic differences between blood and tissue cells. “This is very… Read more

Last week, we had several posts (“Wanted: Non-Philosophers To Do Philosophy”, On The Goals Of Introductory Philosophy Courses, and On The Various Disciplines’ Resources For Engaging The Enduring Questions) discussing the NEH grant for novel courses on the “enduring questions” and what it said about perception of philosophy in the academy.  Brian Leiter draws attention to a comment from a philosopher who was on the NEH’s review panel and who thinks philosophers have reason to be “worried.”  Here was the… Read more

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