Atlas Shrugged: Terror on the High Seas

PirateShip

Atlas Shrugged, part I, chapter VI As Dagny drifts through the crowds at Hank's party, she overhears a conversation: "Last night," said the spinster, "I stayed awake because of the shooting. There were guns going off all night, way out at sea. There were no flashes. There was nothing. Just those detonations, at long intervals... Everybody down on the shore knows what it was. It was Ragnar Danneskjold. It was the Coast Guard trying to catch him." "Ragnar Danneskjold in Delaware Bay?" a … [Read more...]

Ingersoll Sunday: On Divorce

RobertIngersoll

In 1889, a literary magazine called the North American Review solicited essays on the question of whether divorce was ever morally justifiable. Although all the other answers were from clergy (who, for no apparent reason, are always deemed to be the experts on these kinds of questions), they also printed a response by the great American freethinker Robert Green Ingersoll. As in many other things, Ingersoll's progressive, humanistic views were decades ahead of his time. He argued that … [Read more...]

A Conscience Clause for Equal Protection

Earlier this month, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced she wouldn't defend the state in an ACLU lawsuit challenging a ban on same-sex marriage. She's following the same trail blazed by California, where state officials refused to appeal a district court ruling against the discriminatory Proposition 8. It cheers me enormously to see that more and more government officers are coming to recognize the fundamental injustice of these laws, and refusing to defend them where they … [Read more...]

Critical Thinking vs. Victim-Blaming

SnakeOil

This caught my skeptical eye: an article about police efforts to fight the "blessing scam" in Asian neighborhoods in New York City. The scam involves a con artist who approaches the mark, usually an elderly person, to convince them that their cash and valuables are tainted by bad luck that can be removed by a special blessing ritual. The victim is persuaded to put their valuables in a bag and hand them over, but during the ceremony, sleight-of-hand is used to switch the bag for an identical one … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Invention of Fire

Ashtray

Atlas Shrugged, p.63-64 To finish out this section, there's a short scene in the Taggart Terminal at night (the same place where the statue of Nat Taggart stands that Dagny uses for ancestor worship). She's leaving work after an argument with Jim, who's found out that she's only running a few old and broken-down trains on the San Sebastian Line, but who, as always, refuses to take the responsibility of changing anything when she invites him to. In the corner of the concourse, by the main … [Read more...]

A Constitutional Rollercoaster

ParisLGBTRights

I had another post written for today, but there's much too much going on! This week has been a rollercoaster of disappointment, despair, joy and exaltation, and it's only Wednesday. On Tuesday morning, the Supreme Court issued an awful ruling that struck down a key section of the Voting Rights Act. As compiled by Slacktivist, a flurry of Republican-controlled state legislatures immediately began efforts to pass restrictive voter-ID laws and redraw electoral maps to dilute minority votes - … [Read more...]

Why Edward Snowden Should Be Pardoned

AllSeeingEye

I've been assembling some thoughts on the NSA leaker Edward Snowden who revealed the existence of top-secret government surveillance programs, including the PRISM project to tap into the customer data of the nation's largest internet companies, and a court order requiring Verizon to turn over metadata on all calls in its system on an ongoing basis (I'm still astonished that any court could ever have considered that request to comport with the Fourth Amendment). Already there are fierce … [Read more...]

Submission Theology Is Abuse Theology

I've written a lot about the child-abuse coverup by the hierarchy of the Catholic church, but not because I believe Roman Catholicism is the only religion guilty of these crimes. Far from it! Any religion that preaches the virtues of submission and obedience is inherently vulnerable to abuses of this kind. When religious leaders are believed to possess special wisdom or special favor from God, it's only too easy for them to abuse that power to violate those who trust them. It's happened at a … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: February 10

Coffee

• No matter how many compromises the Obama administration offers, Catholic bishops just don't want people to have access to birth control. • Beliefnet is afraid of feminism, telling liberal Christian pastor and blogger Kristine Holmgren that she wasn't allowed to use the word in her header or her blog (at which point, to her credit, she broke ties with them). • Astrophysicists have calculated, on the basis of data from NASA's Kepler telescope, that six percent of red dwarf … [Read more...]

The Dying Branch of Bigotry

The 2008 elections, in which pro-gay-marriage campaigners won a sweep at the ballot box, is a clear sign that the tide of society is shifting in favor of equality. We've known for a long time that this was coming, since the younger generations now replacing the older ones are overwhelmingly comfortable with equal rights. In the Western world, prejudice is like a dying branch - it may still have leaves, but it's dead at the base, and the rot is only going to spread upwards. Still, there are some … [Read more...]


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