Some oddly-assorted items.

There was a terrifying item in the Village Voice today, about the cozy friendship between the Bush administration and something called the Apostolic Congress – a group of ‘rapture’ Christians – you know, those nice people who look forward to the day when Jesus comes back and boils the blood of unbelievers by the power of his gaze. Just the kind of folks you want influencing US policy toward Israel, yes indeed.

The e-mailed meeting summary reveals NSC Near East and North African Affairs director Elliott Abrams sitting down with the Apostolic Congress and massaging their theological concerns. Claiming to be “the Christian Voice in the Nation’s Capital,” the members vociferously oppose the idea of a Palestinian state. They fear an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza might enable just that, and they object on the grounds that all of Old Testament Israel belongs to the Jews. Until Israel is intact and David’s temple rebuilt, they believe, Christ won’t come back to earth.

Well that’s an understandable concern, so it’s good to know that dear old Elliott A. (how fondly one remembers him from the Reagan years) put in some time soothing them. PZ Myers has a few acid words on the subject at Pharyngula. He’s right, one does indeed think of General Jack D Ripper, with his mad, staring eyes.

Chris at Crooked Timber posted a comment on Julian’s latest Bad Moves yesterday. He tells an amusing story, Jo Wolff tells another (to do with Stuart Hampshire and hypothetical questions), and old (possibly Warner Brothers) cartoons are mentioned. Plus there is an interesting little discussion of the uses of hypothetical questions and whether they strip things down too much. I tend to think, in a mushy way, that they can, but on the other hand stripping down can be useful, so…

There’s the Guardian item about a book by an astronomer, Percy Seymour: The Scientific Proof of Astrology. Proof? Proof? Proof?? Why does he call it proof? Was that a publisher’s decision? The article makes clear enough why even what Seymour considers evidence is not very convincing (to put it mildly), but as for proof – ! Must be a marketing decision, I suppose.

Normblog has a comment from a friend on verbiage and where it comes from.

I am wading through finals assignments at the moment, and so many kids write – if they can at all – in this sort of media studies verbiage dotted with ‘discourse’ this, ‘dominant ideology’ that, and phrases like ‘our ontological enrichment’

Yers. Well, I can say this – if the Fashionable Dictionary is a runaway bestseller (and why should it not be? wipe that smirk off your face) and people actually read it as opposed to merely buying it and then throwing it into the back of the closet – but they will read it of course, because they will at least open it, and once they open it, they are lost – then ‘discourse’ this and ‘dominant ideology’ that will go right out of fashion. Right out. People won’t dare say them any more for fear of the shouts of mocking laughter that will assail them if they do. What a feeling of accomplishment we will have.

And finally. This is sad. I’m proofreading the next edition of The Philosophers’ Magazine this week, and in doing so today I saw that there was an item ‘Remembering STAMP’. I didn’t know, so I thought you probably wouldn’t know either, and might like to, so I thought I would tell you. STAMP did brilliant cartoons for TPM, and he’s died of leukemia. My colleague tells me of an especially good cartoon I hadn’t seen:

It had David Hume being confronted by a pregnant woman (we were supposed to assume it was his mistress). She was saying to him: “Don’t you give me that constant conjunction doesn’t necessitate causality nonsense.”

So shed a tear and raise a glass to STAMP, and to wit and good cartoons and cartoonists, and to the wish that all such people should live to be 105.

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