They're spreading blankets on the beach

The Economist: “America’s transport infrastructure: Life in the slow lane

America’s dependence on its cars is reinforced by a shortage of alternative forms of transport. Europe’s large economies and Japan routinely spend more than America on rail investments, in absolute not just relative terms, despite much smaller populations and land areas. America spends more building airports than Europe but its underdeveloped rail network shunts more short-haul traffic onto planes, leaving many of its airports perpetually overburdened. Plans to upgrade air-traffic-control technology to a modern satellite-guided system have faced repeated delays. The current plan is now threatened by proposed cuts to the budget of the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that America needs to spend $20 billion more a year just to maintain its infrastructure at the present, inadequate, levels. Up to $80 billion a year in additional spending could be spent on projects which would show positive economic returns. Other reports go further. In 2005 Congress established the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission. In 2008 the commission reckoned that America needed at least $255 billion per year in transport spending over the next half-century to keep the system in good repair and make the needed upgrades. Current spending falls 60 percent short of that amount.

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A survey of Protestant pastors found 41 percent of them strongly disagreeing with the statement: “I believe global warming is real and manmade.”

That’s up from 27 percent in a similar survey in 2008.

Hmm. Maybe if I showed them this data from Grist’s Jess Zimmerman, pointing out that the last time CO2 levels in the earth’s atmosphere were this high was 3 million years ago during the Pliocene Epoch?

But alas, the same slice of Protestant clergy who don’t believe in climate change also don’t believe there ever was a Pliocene Epoch or a 3 million years ago.

Maybe I’ll take them to see Carbon Nation.

Richard Flory: “This Just In: Gays and Lesbians Attend Evangelical Colleges!

Via Tony Jones, “Douglass Blvd. Christian Church votes for marriage equality and ends practice of signing marriage license.” The Louisville, Ky., church:

“… voted to end the practice of signing marriage licenses because they give legal benefits to heterosexual couples that are not available to homosexual couples. Until the church’s ministers may confer identical legal benefits on homosexual and heterosexual couples, they will perform only religious wedding ceremonies.”

Good advice from Ezra Klein: “I hew to a strict policy of not learning about wine, as I don’t get paid enough to develop a taste for it.”

Consumerist: “McDonald’s Hires 62,000 at Job Event, Turns Down 938,000

So next time you hear some condescending, privileged jerk preaching resentment toward the poor — “Why don’t they just get a job flipping burgers?” — you can remind them that Mickey D’s has 20 applicants for every job opening.

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Church historian Martin Marty tries to make sense of “Why Some Religious Right Champion ‘Atlas Shrugged.’”

Give [Ayn] Rand in her writings credit … She made clear that if anyone would come after her, they had to deny all their impulses toward selflessness, take up their blinders and billfolds, and follow her.

Marty is confused that anyone could profess to be an admirer of Rand’s while also professing to be an adherent of the Christianity that she vilified and the tenets of which she urged her admirers to contradict.

Me too.

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Ross Douthat makes his “Case for Hell.”

Hell is logically necessary, Douthat argues, for reasons of simple fairness. Good people like himself have been working all day in the vineyard. They’ve been working really hard.

Would it be fair if a bunch of Johnny come latelies waltzed in just before quitting time and, without even really breaking a sweat, got paid the same wages as those who have worked all day? Of course not.

What kind of sick and twisted God wouldn’t recognize that those who have worked harder are better people and thus deserve to be more richly rewarded?

And to be perfectly fair, those latecomers who never put in a full day’s work shouldn’t just be paid less – they should be paid nothing and, instead, should be tortured forever and ever and ever without end.

Because that’s only fair.

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And since today marks five years since I met the Slacktivixen, a bit of lovely sappiness from Bright Eyes:

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  • Caravelle

    This is going to sound very vague and wishy-washy. Which – apologies. But that’s how I work, to some extent.

    I think it’s a great explanation actually, and a beautiful one to boot. Or maybe I’m just reading my own understanding into it :)

    Basically you’re saying that the Universe isn’t fundamentally ordered ? Or would you say it isn’t fundamentally understandable, or understandable by us ? (I would say the two first statements mean the same thing and the third one is very different but I could see an argument that the second and third one are the same, in which case I’m not sure where that leaves the first)

    I do have one question though : what do you mean when you say that things always always work like a story ? To me it looks as if things rarely work like a story, let alone always always. It’s not even as if I would be surprised if they did, because I see stories as representations of the world, but they’re imperfect representations with their own rules and limitations.

    As to your question about what
    God can and can’t do, I have no idea. I don’t try to define it very often. All I do know is that, in my opinion, saying that God is omnipotent does not mean that he can snap his fingers and instantly have things work in a completely different way. When people
    say “Ah, but God could change that bit if he wanted to”, it sounds a bit like nonsense.

    That makes perfect sense to me but I don’t think “God can do anything that can be done” is a good way of expressing it. It implies knowledge about
    what God can do that it simply doesn’t contain; it’s either completely ad-hoc and depends on how the speaker thinks the world works, or it’s a camouflaged tautology. I’ve got nothing against tautologies but I don’t like it when they pretend not to be one.
    ITSM you’re saying “I [and most people who believe in God] think God can do great and
    amazing things. I don’t think God can do everything. Beyond that, I don’t know”. It’s not exactly a conversation ender to put it that way (for one thing, it invites a discussion of what great and amazing things you think God can do) but to me it sounds more accurate and honest than “God can do anything that can be done”.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    ITSM you’re saying “I [and most people who believe in God] think God can do great and amazing things. I don’t think God can do everything. Beyond that, I don’t know”.

    I’m more trying to say “I think God can do everything; that doesn’t mean God can do anything. Anything and everything aren’t exactly the same.”

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    Basically you’re saying that the Universe isn’t fundamentally ordered? Or would you say it isn’t fundamentally understandable, or understandable by us? (I would say the two first statements mean the same thing and the third one is very different but I could see an argument that the second and third one are the same, in which case I’m not sure where that leaves the first)

    I do have one question though: what do you mean when you say that things always always work like a story? To me it looks as if things rarely work like a story, let alone always always. It’s not even as if I would be surprised if they did, because I see stories as representations of the world, but they’re imperfect representations with their own rules and limitations.

    These bits I’ll try to get back to once I’ve had sleep…

  • Caravelle

    What is the difference in this context ? It seems to me they imply each other.

  • Mark Z.

    In which case “God is good” isn’t a meaningful statement, is it ?

    For omni-omni Philosophical God, no, it’s really not, but Philosophical God isn’t very interesting. For a God who’s interested in relating across the author/story boundary it’s more complicated.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    What is the difference in this context ? It seems to me they imply each other.

    Hence the confusion. And the reason why I said God can do anything that can be done.

    Not something I’m going to be able to explain to you, I think. I’d suggest leaving it.

  • Caravelle

    We’re just going to leave it at that ? That’s too bad, I enjoyed learning about your point of view, and in this case it seemed to me we were just working off different definitions of “everything” and “anything”. I was even going to make another post working through what I meant by “they imply each other” but I figured I’d wait until you got up, so now what do I do ? :p

    I’m fine with leaving it if that’s what you want, but I do want to make what I think would be my overall point in this discussion : pithy phrases with very deep meanings tend to be that deep because they rest on mountains of assumptions. Sometimes you work through those assumptions and find enlightenment. Sometimes you find contradiction or meaningless tautology*. Sometimes you find gibberish**. And it could be that different people find different things.

    So personally I prefer it when such sentences are accompanied by some explanation or some context so we can at least be on the same page. It’s a bit strange that the bit you wrote I felt I understood best was the one you thought was vague and wishy-washy. But that might just go to show I don’t understand you at all :( <–see how sad that makes me

    *…it could be both.

    **…it could be bo-

    - Don't push it, Senior Wrangler.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    …I request leave of absence. :)

    (Difficult day to get through, but I’ll get back to you eventually.)

  • Caravelle

    lol ! Sorry, don’t worry about it ^^


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