Sunrise at Dover Beach

The sea is calm tonight, The tide is full, the moon lies fair Upon the straits; on the French coast the light Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand, Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay. Come to the window, sweet is the night air!I was originally going to post the poem "Dover Beach", by the Victorian poet Matthew Arnold, as the next installment of my Poetry Sunday series. Arnold was Professor of Poetry at Oxford and was said to be one of the three great Victorian poets, … [Read more...]

No Religious Exemptions from Discrimination Laws

Via ABC, this good news: the California Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that doctors cannot deny patients medical care on religious grounds. The case involved two Christian doctors, working at a fertility clinic, who had refused to perform artificial insemination on a lesbian:Guadalupe Benitez, now 36, had maintained that the California medical clinic that was treating her polycystic ovary syndrome had "dumped" her when she asked for artificial insemination.In 1999, after a year of … [Read more...]

Speak Boldly

This weekend, I came across an outstanding editorial by the British journalist Johann Hari, "We should never pulp books out of fear of fanatics". It opens by describing "the story of a novel you cannot read":The Jewel of Medina was written by a journalist called Sherry Jones. It recounts the life of Aisha, a girl who really was married off at the age of six to a 50-year-old man called Mohammed ibn Abdallah. On her wedding day, Aisha was playing on a see-saw outside her home. Inside, she was … [Read more...]

Run Your Car on Water! (No, Not Really)

The other day, I came across a pseudoscience site so laughably ridiculous I just had to share it: Page has sound.)As the URL indicates, the unknown people behind this site are selling a kit which they claim will enable you to turn your car into a "water-burning hybrid" that can use ordinary tap water as a fuel source. I'll go over the mechanics of why this is impossible in a minute, but first, I want to call attention to this curious claim:You … [Read more...]

Some More Good News

After the welcome news of the UC-Calvary lawsuit's dismissal, I'm happy to say I have two other pieces of good news to report on this week:• The Alberta Human Rights Commission, a group of petty bureaucrats who make it their mission to censor people's thoughts, has dismissed the charges against Ezra Levant that I wrote about last January, in "In Defense of Free Speech". The commission decided that Levant's republication of the Mohammed cartoons was journalistically reasonable, dismissing … [Read more...]

The UC-Calvary Lawsuit Concluded

This past April, I posted an update on the UC-Calvary lawsuit that I first discussed in February 2006. I have another update to report, and I'm happy to say it's very good news indeed.As you'll recall, the private Calvary Chapel Christian School sued the University of California in a bid to force UC to grant college credit for courses that taught creationism and were otherwise biased toward Christianity. Calvary Chapel filed two challenges, one facial - that the UC's college credit policy was … [Read more...]

Book Update

I apologize for it having taken this long, but I have important news to report: I've finished editing the complete rough draft of my book, and I think it's now in a form ready for publication. If you've read any of the chapters so far and would like to see the complete draft, e-mail me or leave a comment in this thread.In its current form, the book is approximately 78,000 words. This compares favorably with the current atheist bestsellers, while still being short enough to be read fairly … [Read more...]

In Praise of Judicial Activism

In Federalist no.10, James Madison wrote a famous passage about how a democratic republic must watch for the danger of becoming a "dictatorship of the majority":Complaints are everywhere heard from our most considerate and virtuous citizens, equally the friends of public and private faith, and of public and personal liberty, that our governments are too unstable, that the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties, and that measures are too often decided, not according to … [Read more...]

Poetry Sunday: Ozymandias

Today's Poetry Sunday features one of the classics of Western literature, written by one of its greatest and most fearlessly freethinking poets. Percy Bysshe Shelley was born in 1792 and wrote at the zenith of the English Romantic period. In 1811, while enrolled at Oxford, Shelley and his fellow student T.J. Hogg published a pamphlet titled The Necessity of Atheism (a title that's given much inspiration to others). This was a major scandal, and when Shelley refused to recant, he was expelled. … [Read more...]

Black Magic for Fun and Profit

A few months ago, I signed up for the mailing list of a site that has the chutzpah to call itself "Real Magic Spells". Practically every single day since, I've gotten a highly entertaining e-mail from the site's proprietor, one Frank Stevens, who endlessly boasts about how he's the real deal, how his voodoo spells really work (unlike all the other fraudulent sites out there), how much labor and danger he had to go through to learn this, how the powerful elders of voodoo magic are furious with … [Read more...]