Hostage bloodbath

Information and details about the hostage situation in Mali are uncertain and contradictory.   But it seems that Algerian forces have stormed the natural gas facility.  Reuters reports that 30 hostages were killed (more than we were told there were), though some escaped.  The fate of the Americans was not known.  From Reuters:

Thirty hostages and at least 11 Islamist militants were killed on Thursday when Algerian forces stormed a desert gas plant in a bid to free many dozens of Western and local captives, an Algerian security source said. [Read more…]

Jesus and other punsters

The BBC has a wonderful article by Sally Davies on puns, basically a review of John Pollack’s book  The Pun Also Rises: How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History, and Made Wordplay More Than Some Antics.  The article offers different theories of puns, most of them ludicrous.  (Why are “power” and “coping with despair” considered valid categories of explanation, while “because they are funny” is apparently not?) Puns have often been condemned, though they are used by by such luminaries as Shakespeare and JESUS (so there can’t be anything wrong with them).  The article includes some world-class puns.  Read it, linked below.  Here is a sample: [Read more…]

The gun control package

The President has issued sweeping new gun control measures, a combination of Congressional proposals and 23 executive orders that go into effect immediately.  Details on exactly what the measures are, as well as a list of the executive orders are linked after the jump.  From The Washington Post:

“President Obama on Wednesday formally proposed the most expansive gun-control policies in generations and initiated 23 separate executive actions aimed at curbing what he called “the epidemic of gun violence in this country.” [Read more…]

Another hostage crisis

The French intervention into Mali spilled over to other countries, as Islamic radicals in Algeria attacked a natural gas facility and seized at least 20 hostages, including  7 Americans, as well as French, British, and Japanese nationals.  From Reuters:

Islamist fighters seized dozens of Western and Algerian hostages in a dawn raid on a natural gas facility deep in the Sahara on Wednesday and demanded France halt a new offensive against rebels in neighboring Mali.

Three people, among them one British and one French, were reported killed, but details were sketchy and numbers of those held at Tigantourine ranged from 41 foreigners – including perhaps seven Americans as well as Japanese and Europeans – to over 100 local staff, held separately and less closely watched. [Read more…]

Stranger in a Strange Church

Philip Jenkins cites the prescience of science fiction writer Robert Heinlein, whose novel Stranger in a Strange Land, written in 1961, posits a church of the future that sounds strangely prophetic:

“At a time of social chaos, seminary reject Joseph Foster proclaimed a spiritual message uniquely suited for America, a nation that had always combined public puritanism with private libertinism. But why not combine the two instincts, creating a religion that spoke the language of fervent piety, while tolerating virtually any behavior? . . . . [Read more…]

Pro-whatever-the-situation-is

Planned Parenthood is finding that the label “pro-choice” is too limiting and is searching for new language:

“I’m neither pro-choice nor pro-life,” said one woman in a focus group commissioned by Planned Parenthood. “I’m pro-whatever-the-situation is.” Said another, “there should be three: pro-life, pro-choice and something in the middle that helps people understand circumstances […] It’s not just back or white, there’s grey.” A recent research push by the organization found that large numbers of Americans feel this way — uncomfortable with both the pro-life and pro-choice labels. And so Planned Parenthood’s newest messaging will be moving away from the language of choice. [Read more…]


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