All entries by this author

Samina Yasmeen on the Taliban in Pakistan *

Apr 12th, 2009 | Filed by

Women’s rights are violated frequently and often without much notice from the public. … Read the rest



Joshua Cohen and Thomas Nagel on Rawls *

Apr 12th, 2009 | Filed by

How Rawls’s political philosophy was influenced by his religion.… Read the rest



André Glucksmann on Postmodern Capitalism *

Apr 12th, 2009 | Filed by

Our age is the first to proclaim the power to reduce risk to zero simply by spreading it around. … Read the rest



John Hope Franklin’s Moral and Intellectual Poise *

Apr 12th, 2009 | Filed by

Franklin, a model to generations of scholars, students, and activists, had few peers. … Read the rest



Strunk and White Are a Terrible Influence *

Apr 12th, 2009 | Filed by

The grammatical advice is so inaccurate that counterexamples often show up on the very same page.… Read the rest



Here kitty kitty kitty kitty

Apr 11th, 2009 6:14 pm | By

Out of curiosity, since Jean told us Jon Stewart did a segment playing off the word ‘pussy,’ I googled his name and ‘pussy’ – and got a lot of hits, most of them not about that segment. They don’t support the ‘pussy just means kittycat’ view.

For instance:

You already know my feelings on Stewart, particularly after that notorious appearance on Crossfire – but you’re being much to kind to call him a wimp, I’ve always felt that he’s a big pussy, period.

Wimp is too nice, you see; Stewart is worse than that; he’s a big pussy.

For another example:

Thank you to the team at Josh Marshall’s liberal TPM blog for putting together this lovely clip

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Trickery at sea

Apr 11th, 2009 5:43 pm | By

An interesting bit of moral idiocy:

[T]he Somali pirate commander warned against any forcible intervention. “I’m afraid this matter is likely to create disaster because it is taking too long and we are getting information that the Americans are planning rescue tricks like the French commandos did,” Abdi Garad said.

Tricks. That’s good, isn’t it? People attempting to rescue a guy being forcibly held by heavily armed thieves are accused by the thieves of planning ‘tricks.’ The pirates inform all parties a week in advance that they will be seizing their ships and threatening their lives, do they? All open and aboveboard? All strictly according to Hoyle?

Right.… Read the rest



How do you know?

Apr 11th, 2009 5:35 pm | By

Russell Blackford makes an important point:

[I]t’s become increasingly apparent to me, partly from the Voices of Disbelief exercise, that many people in the bioethics community are fed up with the never-ending resistance from religionists to rational bioethics. Some of them are asking what credentials religion has anyway. Religious leaders are, of course, able to put their arguments in public, like anyone else. But they cannot expect anyone to defer to them if they rely on controversial religious claims…I suggest that religious leaders should be free to put their arguments, but if the arguments depend on doctrines such as ensoulment, the views of God, the sanctity of the natural order, and so on, these popes and priests should not

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A N Wilson and Jesus thrash the evil secularists

Apr 11th, 2009 1:16 pm | By

I don’t read the Daily Mail; I know its reputation, so I avoid even sampling it, because I get enough aggressive stupidity right here at home; but I made an exception for A N Wilson on evil secularism, and I’m quite startled by its frank vulgarity. He’s not a moron, Wilson, at least I thought he wasn’t, but this stuff…

This playground attitude accounts for much of the attitude towards Christianity that you pick up, say, from the alternative comedians, and the casual light blasphemy of jokes on TV or radio. It also lends weight to the fervour of the anti-God fanatics, such as the writer Christopher Hitchens and the geneticist Richard Dawkins, who think all the evil in

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That is not what this public debate is about

Apr 11th, 2009 1:08 pm | By

Stop the presses – a Catholic archbishop is a Catholic archbishop. He disagrees with Tony Blair about homosexuality. Stone the crows.

Mr Blair is a very fine politician and he has got very well-tuned political senses. But I am afraid the way the Catholic Church thinks is rather different to that and I think I will take my guide from Pope Benedict actually.

Well yes, we know. The way the Catholic church thinks is rather different: it ignores new ideas and knowledge about what is best for human beings, what does and does not harm people, what is and is not fair in human terms, and the like, and instead it consults its prejudices, attributes them to an unavailable … Read the rest



Tennessee: Tornado Kills Woman and Baby *

Apr 11th, 2009 | Filed by

Survivors rush to thank God for sparing them.… Read the rest



Jonathan Turley on Laws Against ‘Religious Hatred’ *

Apr 11th, 2009 | Filed by

They’re a bad idea.… Read the rest



Johann Hari on What-aboutery *

Apr 11th, 2009 | Filed by

The best way to respond is to state a simple truth: there can be more than one bad thing in the world. … Read the rest



A N Wilson Talks the Extraordinary Dreck *

Apr 11th, 2009 | Filed by

Sneer, sneer, sneer, sneer, I’m better than they are, sneer.… Read the rest



Catholic Archbishop Talks the Usual Dreck *

Apr 11th, 2009 | Filed by

The pope was defending African women, it’s a sensitive point, I’m not going to answer your question.… Read the rest



Bishop Insists: the Resurrection is Real *

Apr 11th, 2009 | Filed by

It really really really happened. We know this.… Read the rest



Among the bottom-feeders

Apr 10th, 2009 5:17 pm | By

I had another look at that post David Thompson did last July, and noticed a couple of things. Ironically (or not) I wanted to address that post in a substantive way at the time, and was just about to, but then the torrent of sexist abuse killed any interest in engaging, so I never got to it. This is, by the way, one reason epithets are not such a great thing: discussions that collapse into stupid name-calling do not generally also manage to discuss ideas in a substantive way. That’s probably because discussions that collapse into stupid name-calling tend to repel intelligent people and attract stupid ones, which makes substantive discussion kind of difficult. There is something quite risible … Read the rest



A few days in the low countries

Apr 10th, 2009 5:00 pm | By

This discussion gets more and more peculiar and interesting as it goes on. There is a whiff of disingenuousness about much of it – a peculiar air of outraged innocence about something that many people take to be a very overt insult. The thing that’s peculiar about that is that usually when we are told we have accidentally said something insulting – we blush and stammer and hasten to explain that we didn’t mean it that way. We don’t insist on going on using the word in the way we (but not other people) understand it. Yet this apparently doesn’t apply to epithets about women. That’s interesting.

Suppose you know a little Dutch, and you’re in Haarlem visiting friends, and … Read the rest



A Telephone to God *

Apr 10th, 2009 | Filed by

But you have to leave a message. No reports of God calling back yet.… Read the rest



What’s New About New Atheism? *

Apr 10th, 2009 | Filed by

The more clerics rely on arguments based on religious claims, the more those claims will be challenged.… Read the rest