Cop drones

The small unmanned aircraft that are proving to be such a powerful weapon in our nation’s military operations are coming to a community near you.  The police are going to get their hands on them.  They have already been used in some limited cases against truly bad guys, but so far the FAA has to approve each use of them and only for “emergency” purposes.  But in 2013 the FAA expects to loosen the requirements, allowing the police to use... Read more

“Something close to a creationist” and “potentially evangelical”

A professor passed over for a job because he questioned evolution sued for religious discrimination.  The university has settled: The University of Kentucky will pay $125,000 to an astronomy professor who sued the school for religious discrimination. A motion filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Lexington said that both UK and C. Martin Gaskell, a research fellow at the University of Texas-Austin, now want the lawsuit thrown out. It had been scheduled to go to trial on Feb. 8.... Read more

State of the Union

I usually consider it my patriotic duty to watch the President’s State of the Union Address. I couldn’t this time. Tell me about it.

Cyber-skepticism

The British newspaper The Guardian pulls together a number of books that are criticizing our brave new cyber-world: The way in which people frantically communicate online via Twitter, Facebook and instant messaging can be seen as a form of modern madness, according to a leading American sociologist. “A behaviour that has become typical may still express the problems that once caused us to see it as pathological,” MIT professor Sherry Turkle writes in her new book, Alone Together, which is... Read more

Attaining total security everywhere

A suicide bomber set himself off at the Moscow airport in an area where people wait for arriving passengers, killing 35 and wounding 180.  So now security experts are trying to figure out how to implement security measures at ticket counters, baggage claim areas, and the rest of the terminal that has public access. Again we see the pattern:  Airport security  responds to a threat by imposing a security measure designed to make the attack physically impossible.  Terrorists stop using... Read more

What an organist learned

Lynette Tedlund, a.k.a. the commenter on this blog known as  “Booklover,” wrote a piece for her local newspaper on the topic “My First Job.”  Her first job, along with her sisters, was organist for her church.  Here is what she learned from that experience: Aside from forming in us an idea of what truly beautiful sacred music and hymnody is, the Lutheran liturgy that we played and participated in formed the very fiber of the women that we became. One will... Read more

The end of the store?

What the big chain bookstores did to the mom & pop shops, Amazon.com is doing to the big chain bookstores.  At least Borders, which may be in its death throes.  (Barnes & Noble is hanging in there.)  Border’s woes are not just the internet.  The Washington Post published a fascinating article about Borders in the context of the larger book business:  Borders struggles amid rapid changes in book sales. We have discussed the pro’s and con’s of Walmart, which gives... Read more

March for Life, 38 years after Roe v. Wade

Yesterday was the annual March for Life in our nation’s capital: Thousands of bundled-up abortion opponents rallied Monday on the Mall, encouraged by recent federal and state GOP wins and hopeful about proposed measures that would further tighten bans on federal funding for abortions.The Youth Rally and Mass for Life, hosted by the Archdiocese of Washington, marked the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. Annual events tend to focus on mobilizing the young,... Read more

Packers and Steelers go to the Superbowl

Both of the division championship games were surprisingly alike.  One team absolutely dominated in the first half, but then in the second half the other team showed life and came within striking distance.  But the Packers from Green Bay, Wisconsin (pop. 100,353) defeated the Bears from Chicago, Illinois (pop. 2,896,016).  Also the Steelers from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (pop. 312,819), defeated the Jets from New York City, New York (pop. 8,214,426). So it will be a small town Superbowl, a rust belt Superbowl. I... Read more

Two different reasons to be civil

Michael Gerson asks, “Why, other than upbringing, should we be civil in the first place?”  He cites two different and competing reasons: In the Western tradition, one answer has been rooted in epistemology – the limits of knowledge. Citizens, in this view, should not be arrogant or intolerant about their political, moral and religious views because no one has the right to be certain of his or her views. What our public life needs is more ambiguity, agnosticism and detachment.... Read more
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