An alternative presidential option?

What do you think of this possibility–not a third party, but a coalition ticket elected by the public via the internet? The restless political middle — emboldened by the recent inability of a special congressional committee to agree on a debt-reduction deal — is staking out a controversial plan to insert itself into the 2012 election. A bipartisan group of political strategists and donors known as Americans Elect has raised $22 million and is likely to place a third presidential… Read more

Non-creationist critiques of Darwinism

Marquette philosophy professor Howard Kainz reviews two new books in which atheist scholars critique Darwinism: Surprisingly, two recent books by atheist philosophers of science have joined with ID theorists in the criticism of neo-Darwinism. Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, in What Darwin Got Wrong come at neo-Darwinism from a number of directions. Initially, they draw a comparison with B.F. Skinner’s psychological theory of “operant conditioning,” which attempted to explain changes in human behavior by patterns of stimulus and response. Limitations… Read more

iPhones are pro-life

Indignant complaints about Siri, the virtual personal assistant on the new iPhones, which will give you information about just about everything, but not where you can get an abortion: If you ask Siri for an abortion clinic in New York City, it will tell you “Sorry, I couldn’t find any abortion clinics.” A simple Google web search—which Siri itself uses to find results—gives you seven to start with, some within walking distance of where I’m located. • If you ask… Read more

The Elf who stole Christmas

Far more subversive to the true meaning of Christmas than the secularizers is the “naughty or nice” legalism of “Elf on the Shelf”: Who can resist the holiday fun of scaring the children into good behavior? Ask any of history’s most efficient dictators — they’ll tell you. Christmas just isn’t Christmas without the naughty-nice punishment paradigm. Where would this holiday be without its good old-fashioned behavioral paranoia? Charles Dickens may get all the credit for this, but do also consider… Read more

Does America need to defend everybody?

Frank Sonnek, frequent commenter on this blog, has found some interesting data and raises some interesting questions about our defense budget: our military spending exceeds ALL global military spending if you don’t count china, which spends about 15% of what we spend. some analyses relate military spending to GDP, but I am not sure what the relevance of doing that is, as opposed to absolute spending. let’s say we cut our military spending to be maybe 1/2 of the next top… Read more

The end of the Euro?

The European economy is in a state of crisis, to the point that some people are thinking that the Euro, the pan-European currency (except for the British pound a few others), may be finished.  Some businesses are planning what to do if the Euro ceases to exist: International companies are preparing contingency plans for a possible break-up of the eurozone, according to interviews with dozens of multinational executives. Concerned that Europe’s political leaders are failing to control the spreading sovereign… Read more

Courthouse Christmas displays gone mad

Christmas time is here, so it must be time for controversies over Christmas displays at the county courthouse.  Every year we have one here in Loudon County, Virginia.  Having a Nativity Scene, including one that had been donated by a local family and that had become a tradition, would seem to violate the separation of church and state.  Even Christmas trees have a Christian association.  So surely if the courthouse displays Christian symbols, it would be appropriate to display a… Read more

Replicating a Stradivarius

How’s this for a use of  technology? A Stradivarius violin has been “recreated” using an X-ray scanner normally used to detect cancers and injuries, according to researchers. The US-based group used a computerised axial tomography (CAT) scanner on the 307-year-old instrument to reveal its secrets. They then used the data recovered to build “nearly exact copies”. The team said the technique could be used to give musicians access to rare musical equipment. . . . Scans of the older instruments… Read more

Cain’s non-denial denial

Here is Herman Cain’s initial statement about an Atlanta woman’s contention that she has had an ongoing affair with him: “Mr. Cain has been informed today that your television station plans to broadcast a story this evening in which a female will make an accusation that she engaged in a 13-year long physical relationship with Mr. Cain. This is not an accusation of harassment in the workplace – this is not an accusation of an assault – which are subject… Read more

Living in two times

The post about “Happy New Year,” referring to the beginning of Advent and asking about why the last days of the church year aren’t really noted, made me realize that the church year is not supposed to cover everything.  Christians are under two calendars, just as they live their lives in two times.  There is the secular calendar, the time of the world, that progresses from season to season, along with its distinct cultural and national holidays, such as in… Read more

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