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July 22, 2014

All You Can Eat--Just be Grateful

Crosscut.com today carries my thoughts about the quiet food revolution--improved quantity, variety and quality--available to the contemporary American.

July 21, 2014

Maybe Pedophilia Confers an Evolutionary Advantage?

Richard Dawkins, probably the world's leading Darwin defender, is also a defender of "mild pedophilia", it appears. A recent interview has him rationalizing the dear old teacher who liked to molest little boys from time to time. Nothing too wrong with that, right?

This is the moral universe of Richard Dawkins.

"War On Humans" Video Released Today

The radical edge of the environmental movement somehow always identifies people as a curse on the planet, and they aren't kidding.
Today a film, The War on Humans, has been released by Dr. John West of Discovery Institute, based on the work of Wesley J. Smith, director of Discovery's Center on Human Exceptionalism.

So are humans just another animal in the forest--the bad boy of the forest, indeed? Or something exceptional in nature? What a difference that makes!

The 30 minute video can be opened directly from the link above.

July 18, 2014

Window Into Russian Propaganda


Repeatedly this blog has tried (without much success) to call attention to the propaganda campaigns waged within America by the Russian government and the Chinese government. I don't have a problem with their government's making their views known, even while they suppress the accurate representation in their countries of our government's views. What is galling is the failure of American major media to call attention to these organized information (and disinformation) campaigns.

The same goes for Al-Jazzera TV, sponsored by the Emir of Qatar, who has a definite anti-Western agenda on a number of issues.

Now we have a reporter quitting Russia Today news in protest over the editorial censorship. It deserves more play. Imagine if a reporter quit Fox News claiming it was censoring the news; the other major media would be all over it.

Gaza Tunnels Warrant Israeli Attack

Tunnel.jpg

Notable for their relative scarcity are international denunciations of Israel's incursion into Gaza. The reasons are clear. Hamas is known for treachery, even by Middle East standards. For example, Hamas' request Wednesday for a five hour truce for the U.N.'s humanitarian purposes was exploited immediately (once granted by Israel) for new Hamas attacks from a major tunnel under the border and for more rocket attacks. Obviously, there is no honor in Hamas, no reliability under any circumstances.

Regarding the tunnels, the Times of Israel explains their extent and seriousness:

"Israel could have woken up Thursday to an entire kibbutz under siege. Haim Yellin, the head of the Eshkol Regional Council recently told the Times of Israel, standing outside a tunnel discovered several months ago, that many residents in the region are so scarred by the prospect of a tunnel attack that they hear the phantom scratching of shovels when they close their eyes at night...

"Some of the offensive tunnels take more than a year to build. They are re-enforced with several hundred tons of concrete. The digging, a former Southern Command geologist said when examining the 1700-meter tunnel discovered last October, entailed the removal of 3,400 cubic meters of earth. Israel has uncovered five major tunnels recently; reports suggest there are dozens.

"Finding the entrances to these tunnels - often within houses - and charting their alignment and geology, allows the army to neutralize the threat and, at least, set back the timer on these strategic attacks."


Continue reading "Gaza Tunnels Warrant Israeli Attack" »

July 15, 2014

How to Relive the Fifties (and the 40s, and 30's, Etc.)

Charles Atlas.jpg

AImost nothing was "before your time" if you let history bring it to life for you. Living only in the present and its enthusiasms robs you of the experiences of the past that you can enjoy vicariously. Some of those experiences literally can give you the feel and tastes that preceding generations knew. That's why I am thrilled to see tweeds come back into style, for example, and frozen custard stands re-invented. These reactionary fashions follow the return of salsa music about 20 years ago and the martini before that. My family's vinyl collection and rickety phonograph player is more popular now with the younger generation than with the older. ("Awesome," one remarked to me, listening to Cole Porter. "You can understand the lyrics!") Thanks to the much-reviled Tea Party, more people actually are studying and discussing the Constitution again, as once happened regularly in Civics Class--when there still were civics classes.

Howard Chapman, Discovery's Midwest Philosopher, sends a YouTube link of a Diamond Films nostalgia trip through the 1950s. I can add some recollections: John Wayne, school crossing guards, Estes Kefauver and his coon-skin hat, "Art Houses" showing foreign films, Dairy Queen, the Korean War, slow dancing, Red China gets the bomb, girls' crinolines skirts, C. Wright Mills' "The Power Elite", Bill Buckley's "God and Man at Yale," Gina Lolllobrigida, blue suede shoes, Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White (the mambo and the cha-cha), Newsreeels ("Time Marches On"), Green Rivers and chocolate Cokes, "You Are There" (with Walter Cronkite), pink shirts and charcoal gray slacks, The Hungarian Revolution, Charles Atlas ads, Hawaiian themed restaurants and bars, ties with hand painted hula dancers or palm trees, barn roofs advertising "Lookout Mountain, 40 miles", Boys State, Chicken a la King for company at home, Steak Diane and Baked Alaska at night clubs, blue jeans rolled up at the bottom, Kick the Can...or am I getting back to the 40s now? In which case: collecting tin foil balls, "free cone" paper slips in the bottom of some ice cream cones, running through sprinklers, hot rods, "Who Lost China?", Schwinn bikes, "How to Win Friends and Influence People," men's bathing "trunks" with belts, canvas awnings in summer.. ETC!

Continue reading "How to Relive the Fifties (and the 40s, and 30's, Etc.)" »

July 12, 2014

WMD in Iraq: Surprise, Surprise

There were and are WMD in Iraq, and now there are Wikileaks that support the claim. What to do? Maybe start by taking that old "Bush Lied, People Died" bumper strip off your Volvo?

Continue reading "WMD in Iraq: Surprise, Surprise" »

July 10, 2014

Grow Up, Brazil (Or Not)

Brazil 3.jpg

Bruce Chapman's comments on the continuing bathetic grief over Brazil's soccer loss to Germany; then Steve Murphy's response. (Mr. Murphy, principal at Pacific Northwest Advisors in Seattle, specializes on business relations in Latin America. He worked in Rio for ten years and is fluent in Portuguese.)

Grow Up, Brazil

by Bruce Chapman

The most famous knock on Brazil is often attributed to Charles DeGaulle: "Brazil is the land of the future, and always will be." There is haunting truth to that.

Consider the national breakdown Brazil suffered after its soccer defeat to Germany, a collapse so pathetic that even the Germans felt sorry for them. Instead of basking in the well-deserved admiration that was accorded the country and its people after the successful hosting of the World Cup (as Russia enjoyed did after it hosted the winter Olympics in Sochi, and before Putin invaded Crimea), Brazilians reacted to their defeat as if someone had started World War III on the beach at Ipanema.

Brazil 2.jpg

Mind you, I love these people and so does most of the world. They are out-going, seemingly care-free, tolerant and pleasure loving. For weeks around Carnival time they are happy to samba 'til dawn--and then literally samba off to work. Their music is just about my favorite, sensuous, sweet and addictive. The food is tropical and rich, the cane alcohol drinks (cachaca) potent, the art fetching and inventive. But this goes with a people who in private and public are too emotional--going from one extreme to another. Brazil's temperamental motor lacks any gears but Drive and Reverse.

Like I say, you have to love them and also like them. There also are many serious and talented leaders in culture and business down there. But they are like teenagers, in any case. Indeed, the median age in Brazil is only 30.5. But that's no excuse. There are plenty of countries with lower ones; e.g., the other Latin American powerhouse, Mexico, at 26.7 years.

You can tell me again how soccer is more than just a sport in Brazil, blah, blah, blah. But a sport it is, not religion, nationalism and economic system wrapped up together. If you want to be taken seriously, Brazil, act it. Have fun along the way (it will always be part of your great appeal), but please move just a bit past adolescence?

Brazil 1.jpeg

Shake Off the Dust, Rise Above Our Sadness!

by Steve Murphy

"Futebol': this sport started in England was transformed by Brazil's 'beautiful game' and is celebrated by more than 3 billion fans celebrate every four years at the World Cup.

When Brazil lost, or rather was 'destroyed' by Germany this week, its people were psychologically 'wiped out', triggering a nationwide 'fossa' = deep sadness, which engulfed this country of 200 million. While this reaction may be hard to understand in the Northern Hemisphere, it is heart-felt by most soccer fans 'South of the border', who look to 'futebol' to symbolize the beauty, grace and glory of this sport, shared by all of its people. While better political policies are certainly needed in Brazil, the management of 'futebol'is a key component to its body politic, for better or for worse.

As both Neymar, Brazil's 'captain of offense', and Thiago, 'captain of defense', were unable to play, its team 'anchors' were absent. After goal 2, they lost confidence, and with them a nation. My reporter friend Simon offers the following overview of what Brazil must do with its 'brand' of the 'beautiful game': http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/b1813e2c-06e4-11e4-ba32-00144feab7de.html?siteedition=intl#slide0

A bossa nova singer prescribes to her people, ''shake off the dust, Brazil, and rise above our sadness', as do I.

The Perils of Surrogate Parenting

Here are two celebrities, a couple who conceived a child with the father's sperm and a donor's egg. Now the couple is splitting and--they don't want the unborn baby.
Discovery bioethicist Wesley Smith comments: http://www.worldmag.com/2014/07/hollywood_divorce_spat_leaves_surrogate_baby_in_limbo

July 8, 2014

Terrorism is Now a Pandemic

Like a lethal virus, Islamist terrorism continues to spread around the world, even while President Obama underestimates it. There is little effort in the White House or media to connect the dots, to chart a trajectory. The opposition Republicans need to take up this task, getting as many Democrats as possible to join them.

In the 2012 campaign the Obama-Biden team asserted that that the killing of Osama bin Laden meant that. Even the deadly mortar attack and siege of the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya that fall was treated as trivial--and falsely represented as a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Muslim video.

Now, the problem worsens--and we have to be alert to the chance of another terror attack on the U.S homeland. There are roughly a hundred Americans (people who understand technology and media), and several thousand Europeans, training with terrorists in Syria. Is there any doubt that those who survive will come back to the U.S.?

Continue reading "Terrorism is Now a Pandemic" »

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