Good names for towns

tODD and I got this going in the comment thread on my post about last Sunday, and I can’t resist opening it up to the rest of you. I said I liked the name Walla Walla, in Washington. He came back with other towns in that fair state: Sequim (pronounced “squim”) and Puyallup (”pyoo-wallop”). I rejoined with “Hicksville, Indiana.”

What are some other good–in the sense of amusing or interesting or fun to pronounce–names of small towns? If you live in one of them, that’s a bonus, and I’d appreciate hearing about whether the name is a problem or an asset. I hope also to hear from folks in Australia, where there is a town called Wagga Wagga.

What makes this writing bad?

Dan Brown, author of the Christian-bashing, made-up-history-presented-as-truth, mega-selling novel The Da Vinci Code has a new book out, The Lost Symbol. This time the conspiracy has to do with Masons and Washington, D.C., as well as the Catholic church. Critics are lampooning the thing, but that surely won’t prevent millions of people from reading it and believing what they read. This British article cites some of the criticism and proposes the author’s 20 worst sentences. Read them, but first let’s test your literary discernment. What are some things that are wrong with this passage from The Da Vinci Code, chapter 4?

A voice spoke, chillingly close. “Do not move.” On his hands and knees, the curator froze, turning his head slowly. Only fifteen feet away, outside the sealed gate, the mountainous silhouette of his attacker stared through the iron bars. He was broad and tall, with ghost-pale skin and thinning white hair. His irises were pink with dark red pupils.

Health Care Rationing is N.I.C.E.

One Eternal Day assembles material from a number of sources on how nationalized health care can lead to rationing which can lead to passive euthanasia. The whole post is worth reading, but I call your attention to what is already happening in England:

From Wesley J. Smith’s blog, Secondhand Smoke, a series of posts describing how rationing actually works in a country that has nationalized health care.

In the UK, utilitarian bioethicists control who gets–and who is denied–treatment via the Orwellian named organization NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence). NICE explicitly uses a quality of life judgment (QALY–quality adjusted life year) to determine which patients are worth treating. It has now denied coverage for anti-dementia medications to mild Alzheimer’s sufferers. From the abstract of the story in the British Medical Journal:

The hopes of people with mild Alzheimer’s disease have been dashed again by the agency that appraises treatments for use by the NHS in England and Wales, which has reaffirmed its original decision to deny them treatment with dementia drugs. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued amended guidance but still asserts that the drugs would not be cost effective for the mild stages of the disease.

The acronym of the board “N.I.C.E.” is described as Orwellian, which it is. But it is also the name of an organization in another dystopian novel that renders it even more scary. Before following the link, who can name it? And what would that connection add to the discussion?

What is hypocrisy?

Over at the First Things blog, there is a good discussion of the nature of hypocrisy, analyzing the charges against the South Carolina governor and adulterer Mark Sanford. First, Joe Carter:

The American Heritage Dictionary defines hypocrisy as “The practice of professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not hold or possess; falseness.” The British literary critic William Hazlitt once explained, “He is a hypocrite who professes what he does not believe; not he who does not practice all he wishes or approves”

By all appearances, Sanford does indeed believe in marital fidelity. His failures so far are due to his behaving in a way that does not comport with those values; a matter not of hypocrisy but of moral inconsistency. Such consistency is essential—particularly for democratically elected representatives—for establishing and maintaining trust. This is why private behavior has such public implications. The marital infidelity of a elected officials strong signal they are untrustworthy: If a man cannot be trusted to keep a sacred vow to an intimate, how can I trust him to keep his word to me, a stranger?

What we should expect of an elected official is that they be a person of integrity—that their character be a morally consistent whole. A person who is free of contradictory ethical impulses and actions is more likely to behave in a manner that is trustworthy. Even if we disagree with their views, we can deduce how they will act and make our judgments about them accordingly.

Sanford believes that there is an objective moral standard and that his sin (his word) was a result of his external actions being inconsistent with his internal beliefs. Many of his detractors, however, believe that because all moral standards are subjective and internal, behavior can’t be objectively immoral, it can only be inconsistent. For people like Maddow, Sanford’s flaw is not that he acted immorally, but that he expected others to adhere to a standard that he himself failed to keep.

Now, Francis Beckwith:

Ironically, the real hypocrites seem to be Rachel Maddow and like-minded critics. For given their view of liberal autonomy and the sanctity of “personal choices,” it seems fair to say that they really do not believe that outsiders can condemn the judgments and private acts of others since Maddow et. al. do not actually believe there is one correct view of a rightly ordered life. Yet, Maddow and company do not hesitate to issue stern judgments about the inconsistency between the beliefs and the behaviors of people like Sanford, as if there was one correct view of a rightly ordered life. But, as we know, Maddow and company really don’t believe that. Consequently, they, and not their objects of ridicule, are the real hypocrites.

Not a prophet nor the son of a prophet

Liberal evangelical Jim Wallis, editor of “Sojourners” is saying that the satirical comedian Jon Stewart of the “Daily Show” is a prophet. Wallis thinks the Old Testament prophets were all about condemning social injustice, so since that’s what Stewart does, he is one too. Stewart himself rejects the compliment and even the idea that his satire is based on condemning social injustice:

“Because we’re in the public eye, maybe people project onto us their desires for that type of activism coming from us, but just knowing the process here as I do, our show is maybe the antithesis of activism, and that is a relatively selfish pursuit. The targets we choose, the way we go about it — it’s got more of a personal venting aspect than a socially conscious aspect.”

Part of the problem with what Wallis says is that he gets tangled up in language and its figurative possibilities. I might say that I predicted that the Nationals would lose their last game and I was right, so I am a prophet. But that doesn’t make me, you know, a PROPHET. There needs to be some supernatural stuff going on–specifically, the working of God’s Word. This can happen in ordinary preaching. But, again, that doesn’t make the pastor a PROPHET prophet in the Old Testament sense.

I’m intrigued with Stewart’s honest and insightful analysis of his own humor: that it’s selfish, that it’s just venting. It has been said that only conservatives can be satirists, since that genre requires the existence of objective standards by which to measure society and to find it wanting. Can you think of examples of that kind of humor?

From “government option” to “public option”

More language games to make a policy sound more palatable. From
Hugh Hewitt

The Obama/Pelosi/Reid push to take over and nationalize health insurance via the so-called “government option” has received a face-lift this week, with many advocates of the takeover now calling it the “public option,” which sounds less intrusive.   No matter what you call it, the “government/public option” will destroy private sector insurance very soon after it passes and will push tens of millions of employed and covered Americans from the insurance plans they currently own (and generally like) into the sprawling, top-down, rationing-on-the-sly plan that is just Medicare on steroids, a “public option” that will be just as broke and just as oppressive when it comes to intensive treatment of difficult diseases and conditions as medicare is. 

At any rate, the president laid out elements of his health care plan to the American Medical Association, which applauded the parts that were favorable to doctors and remained silent or even booed the parts that were not. See this report.