Wednesday, December 30, 2009
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Once in a blue moon there is one on New Year's Eve. Revelers ringing in 2010 will be treated to a so-called blue moon. According to popular definition, a blue moon is the second full moon in a month. But don't expect it to be blue - the name has nothing to do with the color of our closest celestial neighbor.
A full moon occurred on Dec. 2. It will appear again on Thursday in time for the New Year's countdown.
"If you're in Times Square, you'll see the full moon right above you. It's going to be that brilliant," said Jack Horkheimer, director emeritus of the Miami Space Transit Planetarium and host of a weekly astronomy TV show.
The New Year's Eve blue moon will be visible in the United States, Canada, Europe, South America and Africa. For partygoers in Australia and Asia, the full moon does not show up until New Year's Day, making January a blue moon month for them.
Monday, December 28, 2009
HITCHENS:: "What nobody in authority thinks us grown-up enough to be told is this: We had better get used to being the civilians who are under a relentless and planned assault from the pledged supporters of a wicked theocratic ideology. These people will kill themselves to attack hotels, weddings, buses, subways, cinemas, and trains. They consider Jews, Christians, Hindus, women, homosexuals, and dissident Muslims (to give only the main instances) to be divinely mandated slaughter victims. Our civil aviation is only the most psychologically frightening symbol of a plethora of potential targets. The future murderers will generally not be from refugee camps or slums (though they are being indoctrinated every day in our prisons); they will frequently be from educated backgrounds, and they will often not be from overseas at all. They are already in our suburbs and even in our military. We can expect to take casualties. The battle will go on for the rest of our lives. Those who plan our destruction know what they want, and they are prepared to kill and die for it. Those who don't get the point prefer to whine about 'endless war,' accidentally speaking the truth about something of which the attempted Christmas bombing over Michigan was only a foretaste. While we fumble with bureaucracy and euphemism, they are flying high."
Friday, December 25, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Have a Merry, Merry Christmas. And of course remember the reason for the season -- the birth of Christ.
So if you are a secular-liberal smug multicultural atheist with pretensions toward science and warmed-over Buddhist inclinations willing to be hemorrhoid take a deep breath and let the majority of us celebrate Christmas.
And, if you are a still-recovering utopian from the Sixties with all that crypto-Marxist baggage still lodged in your feebled brain, get a life and let people enjoy their Christmas holiday without the sterile, insipid intrusions disguised as religious liberty.
Meanwhile, high holidays deserve all the bombast the Trans Siberian Orchestra can muster up.
Take that Richard Dawkins.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Religion exists, in part, precisely because humans aren’t at home amid these cruel rhythms. We stand half inside the natural world and half outside it. We’re beasts with self-consciousness, predators with ethics, mortal creatures who yearn for immortality.
This is an agonized position, and if there’s no escape upward — or no God to take on flesh and come among us, as the Christmas story has it — a deeply tragic one.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
- - Henry Ward Beecher
Friday, December 18, 2009
If you’ve spent any time listening to Prairie Home Companion, then you know that Keillor’s tongue-in-cheek religious humor is usually pretty innocuous, and Lutherans are just as likely to be the butt of the joke as Unitarians. But the reference to Jewish song writers was probably ill-advised. In the context of a get-your-damn-hands-off-my-holiday column, it straddles the line between curmudgeonly and anti-Semitic.
What I found particularly striking is the consistency of his analysis with arguments made over 200 years ago, by David Hume and Adam Smith. Both Hume and Smith argued that our morality is grounded in our human nature in the form of our “sentiments”, and that in many ways these sentiments transcend the specifics of religion or culture.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Here's the Obama passage that made David Kopel, on this day, a believer.
I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism — it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.The Nobel Committee thought it would get the usual refrain that typified the Obama apology tours. Instead, it got a real shot of American exceptionalism of the kind that has enabled the comfort of their convictions. And it was Obama who delivered the singe. I'm sure it was not what they expected.
I raise this point, I begin with this point because in many countries there is a deep ambivalence about military action today, no matter what the cause. And at times, this is joined by a reflexive suspicion of America, the world’s sole military superpower.
But the world must remember that it was not simply international institutions — not just treaties and declarations — that brought stability to a post-World War II world. Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms. The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans. We have borne this burden not because we seek to impose our will. We have done so out of enlightened self-interest — because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if others’ children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity.
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
Hat tip: Organizations and Markets.
My review of Professor North's book, Understanding the Process of Economic Change, is available here.