Archive for December, 2007

The Wire is Coming…

December 21, 2007

If you haven’t followed it yet, don’t let that stop you from making plans to watch. Media will be the theme of the year. No other show tackles social ills and the struggles of living and working.

To what does the show’s title refer?

  • Walk on a wire — dangerously difficult task
  • Listen to the wire — identify secrets to use against
  • Down to the wire — a race with an end
  • Fasten the wire — fix the fence
  • A real live wire — ADHD? or electricly conductive

Balance, investigate, compete, contain, energize — which do you prefer?

Truth is Proportional

December 18, 2007

 

“Pascal once wrote, in so many words, that the certainty of our knowledge is inversely proportional to its significance. The truths of physics give us no words to say to a friend dying of cancer. Evolutionary biology cannot console us at the graveside.”

from R.R. Reno at First Things Blog

(Below the fold see a rebuttal)

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In The Meantime

December 18, 2007

In naming this blog I reflected the current status of my life — hopeful but woefully connected. When I wrote the phrase I was immediately reminded of this book of the same title. A friend shared moving passages she’d underlined while we dined at Kramerbooks & Afterwords. My sister mentioned a few weeks ago this blog’s title is also the name of a popular 1990s song by Spacehog. I was reminded of the song when I saw a few of the 100 Greatest Videos of the 1990s.

(Lyrics below the fold)

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Free Speech = A Right to Print? A Dangerous Mix

December 18, 2007

There’s a strong storm up north blowing from British Columbia (that’s in the west) to Newfoundland. The mixed precipitation of legal briefs and op-eds are a result of low temperatures brought by the Canadian Islamic Congress and humidity from Macleans, a right-of-center weekly journal. Macleans published a cover story entitled “The Future belongs to Islam” by regular columnist Mark Steyn. The article was an excerpt of Steyn’s recent book America Alone.

Steyn is keen on depicting the weakness of the liberal, multicultural West to uphold its values against threats, especially when in the context of demographic trends. Will feminists and the LGBT community exist in 50 years or will there be Sharia on the streets of Toronto, he asks, suggesting multicultural activists naively and to their own detriment embrace accommodation to Islam abroad and domestically. Some of us may find this a typical right-wing position. However, I encourage you to read a column or two of Steyn’s and acknowledge the arguments he puts forth. He’s also rather witty, which should make no difference to his arguments, but of course it does, making him a darling of conservatives and a threat to those not predisposed to his positions.

The CIC sent a 70 page brief to several human rights councils across the country citing Macleans for promoting Islamophobia by printing Steyn’s piece and other such articles over a 3 year period. There’s going to be tons written about this story in the coming year and I will share more from a Girardian perspective (scapegoating, breakdown of sacrificial victims, prestige of sacrifice).

I hope this case is quickly dismissed. On the merits, some issues are just silly, such as the CIC’s including in the charges against Macleans and Steyn a phrase that “Muslims are spreading like mosquitoes ” in Europe. In the text Steyn cited the sources of these statements, European Muslim Mullah Krekar. But not so fast. It has been explained (in a cautious analysis) that Canada values multiculturalism over free speech, both culturally and also legally. Canada possesses no cherished part of the Constitution like our 1st Amendment.

The CIC’s claim, as I understand, does not charge the magazine with inciting violence, actionable under Canadian law, but with denying their “free speech” to respond. Respond? Here’s what is meant…

Update: A liberal Muslim wants to mock Steyn, debate Steyn, and the CIC to drop the suit already! and offers to help publish their response to Steyn in other notable venues in exchange for dropping the suit

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Lists Order Reality

December 15, 2007

Ok, perhaps I should just do a top lists of the week entry, but it’s too late. Here’s one from Cracked Magazine, the ugly step-sister to Mad Magazine. Both often accompanied me on long family car trips as a child. Cracked.com is the ruler of lists and this one will warm the hearts of my fellow Gen Xers.

The 10 Most Terrifyingly Inspirational ’80s Songs

Lists are Silly

December 15, 2007

It’s been said that Foreign Policy Magazine is the People Magazine of international affairs, um, I mean politics. This spread on the most eligible world leaders supports such a claim.

Good Faith, Digitally

December 14, 2007

From Orin Kerr at Volokh Conspiracy:

Debates in the blogosphere often involve accusations of bad faith. Positions are often dismissed as disingenuous, two-faced, and deceitful. In this post, I want to argue for the importance of taking a different approach: I think we should debate with a strong presumption of good faith.

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Biblical Thinking: Against the Grain

December 14, 2007

Peter Leithart writes books, teaches in university, preaches and ministers (Presbyterian) and is the father of 10 kids. He manages time to post great tidbits related to his research and preaching. The post below, entitled Hospitable Society, identifies an area in which biblical thinking transcends today’s liberal/conservative political positions.

Feasting and care for the poor have been polarized in contemporary culture. If you’re a “conservative,” you’re in favor of free trade, consumption without guilt, festivity without concern for those who can’t join you, who probably deserve their poverty anyway. If you’re a “liberal,” you renounce festivity because other people are hungry and how dare you eat when someone else isn’t.

The Biblical prophets combine a promise of festivity with severe denunciation of greed, luxury, and oppression. But they combine the two seamlessly by emphasizing hospitality. The promise is a feast like the feasts of the Pentateuch, where the widow, stranger, and Levite are not forgotten but included as welcome guests.

Against both “conservative” indifference and liberal asceticism, the Bible presents the ideal of the hospitable society.

Africa: Global Leader in Fractals and Source of Digital Computing

December 14, 2007

Ever play Mancala as a kid? I did at my friend Topher’s house. It turns out the game (also called Oware or Bao) is connected to mathematical training, specifically in the field of fractals.

This 15 minute clip includes math concepts beyond mortals like you and me. However, it’s an amazing speech that we can all follow. Take the time. The speaker is an ethno- mathematician and is engaged with projects to teach math to US students.  Studies includes insights into hair braiding, break dancing and basket-weaving.  More info on the speaker here, here and here.

Learn more about and play the Mancala game here.

Shhh!

December 14, 2007

Bumped into an unnamed old friend in Adams Morgan Tuesday night. Good, long conversation over food and drinks touching on the strongest characters in TV’s THE WIRE and HEROES. He’s helped me join the world of online down-loads. If interested in also joining, send a note (go to “about me”).