Monday, September 29, 2008

Happy new year


Monday, September 22, 2008

Fie on them all

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 19, 2008 ( - In a Monday interview with Science Debate 2008, presidential nominees John McCain and Barack Obama reiterated their individual positions on the embryonic stem cell (ESC) research debate, with both candidates again stating that they support ESC research.

In the interview Barack Obama criticized Bush administration funding restrictions for "handcuffing" scientific progress, while Sen. McCain said that, while ESC is acceptable, moral and ethical values should not be violated by creating embryos specifically for stem cell harvesting.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Catholic Vote 2008 Video


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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Morality and markets

As I work right near the Lehman Brothers building, I've been spending some time wondering about what's going on over there. On one hand, when people make bad bets, there have to be consequences, both in the spiritual and financial life. This incentivizes people to make good choices. On the other hand, a whole gaggle of people who didn't make bad choices, including, I suspect, a large number of successful traders, will now be out of jobs because someone else made a bunch of bad decisions. Not cool.


Saturday, September 06, 2008

Suicide vs Heaven

A man came to a priest and said: “I have a tremendous, almost irresistible impulse to kill myself. If I do, will I burn in Hell?”

What should the priest say? If he says, “No, of course not. G-d is merciful. He knows that you couldn’t help yourself.” (all of which is true), I wouldn’t bet on that poor man going another day without taking his life.

On the other hand, the priest might say:

“To kill yourself is to commit murder.

I've seen much evil caused by well meaning priests trying to console grieving families. I'm with number two here.


Correlation and causation

Everyone examines data for evidence that their side is right. If a statistical morsel seems to our taste, the temptation is to swallow it.

Such zeal produces, in this case, the following logic:

Here's event A - a smoking ban.
Here's event B - a selective fall in heart attacks.
Therefore, A caused B.

And if the earlier months for which data is available show an inconvenient rise, the logic presumably staggers on - why, it simply proves that it took a few months for the effect to appear, surely?

It's the kind of logic that ought to wilt with embarrassment. In the event, no one even blushed. Is it serious? Well, it passed for broadsheet news, political and medical establishment opinion.

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Monday, September 01, 2008

Is it censorship or freedom of association?

Salman Rushdie, self-appointed poster boy for the First Amendment, is at it again. This time he’s not standing up for free expression on his own behalf, but on behalf of another author, Sherry Jones, whose debut novel about the prophet Muhammad’s child bride had been withdrawn by Random House after consultants warned that its publication “could incite racial conflict.”

. . .

One respondent declared bravely, “I will never buy another book published by Random House,” and added, in a frenzy of patriotism, “We are Americans. We are free to choose what we want to read.”

Well, I guess we are, although that wouldn’t be my definition of what it means to be an American. It is also true, however, that Random House is free to publish or decline to publish whatever it likes, and its decision to do either has nothing whatsoever to do with the Western tradition of free speech or any other high-sounding abstraction.


Pelosi and Abortion

I don't know a lot about politics. However, any argument that rests on Augustine being in favor of abortion doesn't have a lot of juice in it.

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Olympic team order scandal


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