All entries by this author

Where are the Rock Stars?

Jun 24th, 2004 9:16 pm | By

Lists are always good fun. Top ten this, favourite fifty that, best one hundred the other. A few years ago when a US publisher issued a list of the best 100 English-language novels of the past century, there was quite a frenzy of discussion and disagreement. We all had quite a good time shrieking at one another ‘Tobacco Road?!? Are they kidding??’ Then a few weeks or months later there was a piece in the NY Times Book Review (I think) by A S Byatt (one of the judges) who pointed out how limited the pool of books was they had to choose from, and how further limited their choices were by the rules of the judging. The upshot … Read the rest

Theism Mandatory for Kerry, David Brooks Says *

Jun 24th, 2004 | Filed by

Doesn’t have to be a saint, but does have to be ‘engaged in a personal voyage toward God.’… Read the rest

Hitchens is Mildly Critical of Michael Moore *

Jun 24th, 2004 | Filed by

Yes, movies need a POV, but they don’t need to omit disconfirming material and throw in any old rubbish.… Read the rest

The Actual List Itself This Time *

Jun 24th, 2004 | Filed by

Vote for the top five, and add one.… Read the rest

Presentism Defended: Part 2

Jun 24th, 2004 | By Christopher Orlet

John Milton, who in his Paradise Lost selflessly gave the world the image of hell as a lake of fire, was also the 17th century’s greatest proponent of freedom of speech: as long as you were a Puritan (like Milton) or an Anglican (like the king) you should be able to say anything you like–as long as you did not attack Puritanism or the Anglican Church. Catholics, on the other hand, were but the puppets of a Satanic pope, disloyal British subjects who therefore should be allowed no such rights. John Locke, another Puritan and one who greatly influenced the founders of the American republic, held similar views.

This is all mildly interesting from an historical point of view, but … Read the rest

Delicate Regard

Jun 23rd, 2004 10:35 pm | By

This is a brief but interesting interview with Richard Dawkins. (My colleague did a longer and of course much more thrilling one which is included in What Philosophers Think.) For one thing, he talks about a subject we too are interested in, as you may possibly have noticed. He answers the very odd question ‘Another of your pet peeves is Post-Modernist scholarship, and you satirize a few writers from this school in your book, A Devil’s Chaplain. Isn’t your problem with these academics simply that they are poor writers?’

I don’t think they are poor [writers] at all. They are dominant alpha males in the academic jungle and, in some cases, are ruining the careers of honest scholars

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David Herman on The List *

Jun 23rd, 2004 | Filed by

‘Youth culture is another striking absence.’ What’s striking about it?… Read the rest

Historians and Scientists on List of Intellectuals *

Jun 23rd, 2004 | Filed by

And this is surprising because?… Read the rest

Interview with Richard Dawkins *

Jun 23rd, 2004 | Filed by

‘I feel strongly about things – especially about double standards, hypocrisy, failure to think clearly.’… Read the rest

48 Nobel Laureates Endorse Bush Opponent *

Jun 23rd, 2004 | Filed by

Unusual step for Nobel winners indicates disquiet at Bush policies on science. … Read the rest


Jun 22nd, 2004 9:49 pm | By

A few items related to religious-nonsense item I commented on yesterday. Richard Chappell quotes from another amusingly (or irritatingly, depending on what sort of mood you’re in and how many people there are on how many construction sites in your immediate vicinity and earshot running power saws, jackhammers, cement mixers, anonymous grinders and roarers and screamer-mechanisms – I myself have three such sites and who knows how many people and deafening pieces of equipment, so I’m not sure I’m entirely sane today) bit of religious confusion on his blog:

A lot of New Zealanders, I think, are very nervous of the word ‘religion’ because they think it’s indoctrination, but the danger is if you miss that whole dimension of

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Europe Tackles ‘Honour’ Killings *

Jun 22nd, 2004 | Filed by

European police officials meeting to find ways to combat rising incidence.… Read the rest

Pakistan to Treat ‘Honour’ Killings as Murder *

Jun 22nd, 2004 | Filed by

Government taking practical steps to end custom of murder and other crimes against women.… Read the rest

‘Honour’ Killings to be Reviewed *

Jun 22nd, 2004 | Filed by

UK police re-examining more than 100 cases going back ten years.… Read the rest

13 Greenpeacers Arrested in GM Protest *

Jun 22nd, 2004 | Filed by

Campaigners held after they prevent GM maize-carrying freighter from docking.… Read the rest

‘Iced’ Tea and Potatoe’s *

Jun 22nd, 2004 | Filed by

Misplaced commas, punctuation as technology, the mystery of voice in writing.… Read the rest

Kabbalah Madonna

Jun 21st, 2004 11:59 pm | By

A kind reader, by which I mean Norm Geras, emailed me to point out this absurd piece by Mary Kenny in the Guardian. Norm has already made some pointed comments about it, so I’ll try not to go over the same bit of ground. But there’s really quite a lot to say, because there’s quite a lot wrong with the piece (and the pervasive way of thinking it typifies), so I think I’ll manage to find a few words.

But first I’ll point out one of Norm’s most amusing remarks, in reply to Kenny’s utterly ridiculous ‘Faith is a feminine thing.’

I have some questions here. First, how does Kenny know that faith is feminine? She doesn’t say. But

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Forget Math or History, Can You Kick a Ball? *

Jun 21st, 2004 | Filed by

Athletic programs can subvert the integrity of their universities.… Read the rest

Truth or Being Good? *

Jun 21st, 2004 | Filed by

Which should universities teach?… Read the rest

Happiness Research *

Jun 20th, 2004 | Filed by

Economists need to understand the subject.… Read the rest