All entries by this author

The ‘Little People’ *

Jan 4th, 2004 | Filed by

It’s fashionable to turn down a gong, but what does that say to unfashionable recipients?… Read the rest



What’s Wrong With US Schools? *

Jan 4th, 2004 | Filed by

Three new books examine the problems.… Read the rest



Postmodernism, Hindu Nationalism and ‘Vedic Science’

Jan 4th, 2004 | By Meera Nanda

The Vedas as books of science

In 1996, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) of the United Kingdom (U.K.) produced a slick looking book, with many well-produced pictures of colourfully dressed men and women performing Hindu ceremonies, accompanied with warm, fuzzy and completely sanitised description of the faith. The book, Explaining Hindu Dharma: A Guide for Teachers, offers “teaching suggestions for introducing Hindu ideas and topics in the classroom” at the middle to high school level in the British schools system. The authors and editors are all card-carrying members of the VHP. The book is now in its second edition and, going by the glowing reviews on the back-cover, it seems to have established itself as a much-used educational resource in … Read the rest



Why Did Bam’s Houses Fall Down? *

Jan 3rd, 2004 | Filed by

‘Iran is still being ruled by a useless, incompetent semi-theocracy…’… Read the rest



BBC on Bam Earthquake *

Jan 3rd, 2004 | Filed by

Authorities blame builders, Iranians blame authorities.… Read the rest



Meera Nanda in Frontline Part II *

Jan 3rd, 2004 | Filed by

Postmodernism, Hindu nationalism and `Vedic science’ get together.… Read the rest



Washington, Jefferson and Slavery *

Jan 3rd, 2004 | Filed by

Gordon Wood reviews Gore Vidal, Garry Wills and others.… Read the rest



What Problem?

Jan 2nd, 2004 6:59 pm | By

The nonsense continues. So there’s no point in ceasing to talk about it, not yet at least. (And I daresay we can be pretty confident that the nonsense won’t stop, it never does.)

There is this string of absurdities for example.

In a departure from past practice, a Dec. 27 Dean campaign event opened with a prayer from a minister. That same day, Dean told voters, “I think religion is important and spiritual values are very important, which is what this election is really about.” The faith-friendly tone follows a December cover story, “Howard Dean’s Religion Problem,” in The New Republic magazine. The article called Dean “one of the most secular candidates to run for president in modern history.” It

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A Brief Journey

Jan 2nd, 2004 4:52 pm | By

Well, that was exciting! In a terrifying sort of way. I get on the computer only to find B&W not there. Missing. Gone. Not responding to my summons. I hate it when that happens.

But as you can see, all is well. The Webmaster got it back. So let that be a lesson to you, not to take the Webmaster for granted. He may be a bit on the quiet side at times (thanks to his many occupations), but there wouldn’t be any B&W without him (on account of how I don’t know the smallest thing about programming). Actually he probably staged the whole thing just to teach me not to take him for granted. Show-off.… Read the rest



Elaborated Code Revisited *

Jan 2nd, 2004 | Filed by

Polly Toynbee on a study of class and language.… Read the rest



The Hidden Imam Will Protect You – Not *

Jan 2nd, 2004 | Filed by

Mullahs ruled it okay to build new houses in Bam despite seismologists’ warnings.… Read the rest



Argument Works Better Than Outbursts of Spleen *

Jan 2nd, 2004 | Filed by

There’s a difference between inquiry and mere sounding off.… Read the rest



Cross as Two Sticks

Jan 1st, 2004 8:48 pm | By

I’ve been re-reading Bertram Wyatt-Brown’s Southern Honor and W.J. Cash’s The Mind of the South. Wyatt-Brown wrote the introduction to a new edition of Cash’s book in 1991 – and a very good introduction it is. I particularly like this comment (p. xxxvi):

We need to appreciate how the malady from which he suffered [depression] contributed to his special vision of the South…and provided the seemingly necessary sense of alienation and distance that the subject required. We must also ask ourselves this question: ‘If he had been less angry with himself and his surroundings, if he had lived the ordinary life of a newspaper reporter, how likely was it that he could have broken away, as he did, from

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Best Books *

Jan 1st, 2004 | Filed by

Scott McLemee, Claire Dederer and others choose their favorites.… Read the rest



The Uses of Scientific Literacy *

Jan 1st, 2004 | Filed by

It promotes critical thinking and undermines superstition, for a start.… Read the rest



Moral Imperative to Fund GM Foods *

Jan 1st, 2004 | Filed by

Scientific ethics group says crops suitable for poor countries need more funding.… Read the rest



Strong Reciprocity Explains Altruism *

Jan 1st, 2004 | Filed by

Game theory looks at strategies to promote kindness and punish cheating.… Read the rest



What Right?

Jan 1st, 2004 12:29 am | By

I meant to say something about this article in the Guardian last week, but then that Soapy Joe business came along and pre-empted other ideas. The article discusses a book about Prince Charles and what academics think of his publicly expressed opinions on a range of important subjects.

The heir to the throne has used his position to sound off on architecture, the environment, agriculture and science in a curious blend of the vaguely alternative, the home counties nimbyist and the off-the-wall.

Here is what David Lorimer, the book’s author, has to say:

“He combines a spiritual world view with practical applications. He starts from the basic premise that nature is not a collection of accidents, but has an intrinsic

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Most Overrated and Underrated Ideas of 2003 *

Dec 31st, 2003 | Filed by

Mary Lefkowitz says monotheism is overrated; B&W agrees.… Read the rest



Theological Education

Dec 31st, 2003 2:11 am | By

I found a blogger today who motivated me to say a little more about religion (I’m going to end up writing a damn book, at this rate). The blogger feels a need to educate Dawkins and his cheerleaders, with me chief among them. I can always do with educating (I mean that literally), but this lesson didn’t quite take. Some of what the blogger says is true enough but I doubt that anyone including Dawkins disagrees with it, and the rest of it I maintain is not true.

This is what I would like to tell Dawkins and all of his cheerleaders: they need to go beyond their scientific atheism to a more mature vision of what it means to

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