Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Whole lotta links

I've meant to write about all of these things, but there are others who clamor for my attention. Such is the life of the rock star of the academy. I give and give, but it's never enough for my fans. So instead of my own peerless insight, here are a bunch of things for you to read, written by lesser men and women. (Sorry, imaginary readers.)



* Things are getting better in Iraq.

* However, one scholar believes that the US and its major allies may be at a disadvantage in future conflicts due to declining demographic power. Interesting!


* There are probably two or three times more illegal immigrants in the US than the previous, widely-accepted estimate of 12-15 million.

* Cubans are fleeing to the US in record numbers, many of them through Mexico.

* I'm not a big fan of Bill Clinton, but I like to give credit where credit is due, and I'm sure glad that the former president has no qualms about shutting down insane conspiracy theorists. Nice job!


* Apparently, even very moderate drinking is not good for you, or so one study says. Well, I guess it's time for me to start obeying the Word of Wisdom, since scientists know best.

* Speaking of science, here's a good scientific reason to abandon our irrational love of music. Awesome!


* Even though I know how this test works, and I can point it out to others, I still can only see this optical illusion the way that other right-brained people can. I'm just too darned sensitive and emotional!

* Frackin' Battlestar Galactica is pushing back the debut of season four until April 2008. Felgercarb!


* If you suspect that restaurant servers are committing credit card fraud to get extra tip money out of you, you might be a delusional paranoid. But just in case, here's a clever way to protect yourself.


Sorry I'm not writing more, but I am needed elsewhere. What can I say? My talents are in high demand. Time to share the love.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

All politics is local

HotAir isn't letting anyone register to comment at the moment, and since I feel the need to respond to some comments on this post, I fear that you, my imaginary readers, must bear the brunt of my venting. You have my most sincere apology.

So, here's the background. This Tuesday, Harry Reid, Democratic Senator from Nevada, and Senate Majority Leader for the last year or so, came to speak at BYU. He spoke about his early life in a small town in Nevada, and how he found religion and joined the Mormon church. He also attempted to answer a question on the minds of many in the audience.

It is not uncommon for members of the Church to ask how I can be a Mormon and a Democrat. ...my faith and political beliefs are deeply intertwined. I am a Democrat because I am a Mormon, not in spite of it.

After the speech, he talked with some reporters, and pushed this idea a little further:

Reid also told reporters the Republican Party has been driven by evangelical Christians for 20 years. “They are the most anti-Christian people I can imagine, the people from the Christian far right.”

This quote has managed to make quite a few people mad, which I think is nothing new for Harry Reid. Many people seem to be reading this as an attack on evangelical Christians as opposed to Mormons. I don't read it that way. I read it as an attack on conservative Christians including Mormons.

Remember, Reid is not really in friendly territory at BYU. It's true that he is a Mormon, as are virtually all BYU students. But he is also a liberal Democrat, unlike the great majority of BYU students, who are conservative Republicans. The entire point of his speech was an attempt to justify himself to a skeptical audience, and in doing so he must call their own beliefs into question. When Reid says that he is a Democrat because he is a Mormon, he is telling his Mormon audience that they are wrong to be Republicans, and that they are un-Christian. In other words, people who want to follow Christ's example should feed the poor and avoid war. This is a familiar argument, even among Mormons.

So, if you are an evangelical Christan, and a Republican, and you are mad at Harry Reid, I think you have every right. But please remember that he spoke not as a Mormon attacking other Christians, but as a Christian Democrat attacking Christian Republicans. Many Mormons are just as mad at him as you are, and for pretty much the same reason.

I guess what I am really saying is, don't come complaining to me about some stupid thing Harry Reid said. I didn't vote for him, either.

Gupta Air

After weeks of dithering about where to go during the Thanksgiving break, I've found the flight I want to take. Now if I can just manage a connecting flight in to Delhi...


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Every day a little closer

What's in store for us? I don't know, and neither does anyone else. This is one of the reasons I love reading old science fiction. It's fun to see all the things they got wrong. But I suppose that's the problem with trying to see what's coming. We're too mired in the present. We'll get there eventually, but in the meantime we are truly clueless.

"People ask me to predict the future, when all I want to do is prevent it. Better yet, build it. Predicting the future is much too easy, anyway. You look at the people around you, the street you stand on, the visible air you breathe, and predict more of the same. To hell with more. I want better." ~ Ray Bradbury

I want better, too. But while I wait for the future to get here, I do enjoy escaping from the present. Any of my fellow escapists might enjoy reading this list of the most commonly envisioned futures, and the reasons why they won't happen. (Found at GeekPress.)

Contentious optimists (or optimistic pessimists) should feel free to post comments below explaining how we'll get to utopia (or the apocalypse). Me, I think we might be there already.