Archive for May, 2008

Rx for Global Poverty?

May 29, 2008

Robert Samuelson, economist, writes in his Washington Post column about the relationship of free markets to morality and culture.  I gotta run but tonight I’ll update his with a comprehensive summary and critique.

The Democracy Agenda

May 29, 2008

Thomas Carothers is a keen and prolific observer of democracy promotion, often through the Journal of Democracy and at the Carnegie Center.  Only Larry Diamond rivals his output and breadth of experience.

In the Washington Post today Carothers criticizes McCain’s call for a League of Democracies. (More soon on my take on this)

Passionate Students

May 21, 2008

The parent of a first-year St. John’s College student reflects on a breakfast with friends and gives great praise to the students and method.

A Real War, Though a Novel Kind

May 19, 2008

Law and Security scholar Philip Bobbitt (on Book TV, available here) discusses his new book. Here’s a few notes.

Bobbitt notes the emergence of modern terrorism in 1990, the year when the “Long War” begun in 1914 ended. This period debated in blood the acceptance of fascism as a form for nation-states. While sometimes active and brutal, the battle was also fought during quieter periods as the venomous idea worked its way through various social bodies. The resolution of this clash between nation-states creates the conditions for contemporary terrorism. This form of warfare will go on long past Al-Qaeda is defeated.

Bobbitt is restrained in his criticism of US decision makers. His main words against President (W) Bush has been the extra-legal elements of the law on terror. Geneva Conventions and War Tribunals were created in the previous age. These and other legal instruments must be rethought appropriate for the age, along with the use of the International Criminal Court.

A Question on Gas Prices

May 19, 2008

Does dramatic rise of $ per barrel have more to do with the:

  • weakening dollar,
  • increase in demand pursing the same production
  • natural slow return from recent investments in geological exploration,
  • reduction of “cheap and easy” buried oil (and therefore the global peak)

Speaking of Reading it All…

May 19, 2008

Comparisons between legal and religious methods of interpretation, or hermeneutics, are common. See law professor Levinson’s Constitutional Faith and theologian Pelikan’s Interpreting the Bible and the Constitution. The topic itself is very broad. Here’s one that provokes comparison for me.

Over at Volokh Conspiracy, David Post relates his experiment assigning law students an entire legal decision, not the textbook summary.

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Read the (Entire) Book!

May 19, 2008

Peter Leithart notes the following important though arduous principle:

Jewish biblical scholar Jon Levenson notices the discrepancies between Exodus and Deuteronomy, specifically regarding the length of time for eating unleavened bread (Exodus 12:18; Deuteronomy 16:8).  The Rabbis noticed them too.  Instead of concluding that this is a signal of multiple sources, he follows the rabbis in suggesting that (in Matthew Levering’s summary) “the operative law is to be discovered by taking both passages into account.  The unity of the Mosaic Torah requires that all data be considered.”

That’s an important lesson, for Christian interpreters no less than rabbinic ones.

Buy Einstein’s Faith

May 19, 2008

From a NY Times report on the purchase of a 1954 Einstein letter which reveals some his opinionS on faith and science.

Einstein consistently characterized the idea of a personal God who answers prayers as naive, and life after death as wishful thinking. But his continual references to God — as a metaphor for physical law; in his famous rebuke to quantum mechanics, “God doesn’t play dice”; and in lines like the endlessly repeated, “ Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind” — has led some wishful thinkers to try to put him in the camp of some kind of believer or even, not long ago, to paint him as an advocate of intelligent design.

Trying to distinguish between a personal God and a more cosmic force, Einstein described himself as an “agnostic” and “not an atheist,” which he associated with the same intolerance as religious fanatics. “They are creatures who — in their grudge against the traditional ‘opium for the people’ — cannot bear the music of the spheres.”

The problem of God, he said, “is too vast for our limited minds.”

Link to Humanity

May 17, 2008

I don’t think social psychology gets to the heart of the matter, it only captures trends.  Conscience and personal identity formation are more important a topic.  But here’s a link to “5 psychological experiements that prove humanity is doomed. “

life = risk

May 17, 2008

Thoughts on failure?