Core: noun, the most important part of a thing, the essence; from the Latin cor, meaning heart.

Click for Front Page of Current Issue (Home)

 Volume 1.15  This View’s Featured Pages & Sites May 20, 2002 


The View’s Featured Webpages
(links to offsite pages)

Columns, essays, and news articles (new at top)

Anti-Semitic Pogrom at San Francisco State (05/09/02) new
By Laurie Zoloth at FrontPage Magazine
“I cannot fully express what it feels like to walk across campus daily, past maps of the Middle East that do not include Israel, past posters of cans of soup with labels on them of drops of blood and dead babies, labeled ‘canned Palestinian children meat, slaughtered according to Jewish rites under American license,’ past poster after poster calling out ‘Zionism = racism, and Jews = Nazis.’ This is not civic discourse, this is not free speech, and this is the Weimar Republic with brown shirts it cannot control. This is the casual introduction of the medieval blood libel and virulent hatred smeared around our campus in a manner so ordinary that it hardly excites concern — except if you are a Jew, and you understand that hateful words have always led to hateful deeds.”

Jewish Blood Libel Poster at SFSU (April 2002) new
By Scott Armel-Funkhouser of University of California at Berkeley
“This poster, funded by the Associated Students of San Francisco State University, was posted on campus in April 2002. This is perhaps the most grotesque and explicit incarnation of the ‘blood libel’ observed in the free world since the Nazi Holocaust. It was generated on the campus of a public university by students, using public money. The poster included the names of the following organizations: Associated Students, GUPS (General Union of Palestinian Students), MSA (Muslim Student Association) and WIA (unidentified). The poster incorporates the two most common elements to this medieval racist slur. It suggests (1) that Jews ingest the flesh and/or blood of children, and (2) that there are rites associated with the Jewish religion which detail how to perform this cannibalism. Note that this vicious racism is not directed specifically at Israel but at Jews, for it reads, ‘slaughtered according to Jewish rites’.”

Anti-Semitic riot at San Francisco State University (05/16/02) new
By Melissa Radler in The Jerusalem Post
“After being surrounded by a mob of students shouting, ‘Hitler didn’t finish the job,’ and ‘Get out or we’ll kill you,’ pro-Israel students at San Francisco State University are finally finding an ally against hate. The university president is so fed-up with the hate-filled atmosphere on the Bay Area campus that he has asked the local district attorney’s office to help bring pro-Palestinian hate-mongers to justice.”

Colleges Only Protect PC Speech, Groups (05/16/02) new
By Glenn Harlan Reynolds at FoxNews
“But so far this event, and the university’s tepid response, is simply the latest stage in a long-standing and widespread trend of giving some student groups the permission to engage in behavior that the university would not permit for a moment if it came from groups not favored as politically correct. The result of impunity, of course, is escalation. Just as the toleration of ‘broken windows’ and other petty acts of lawbreaking leads to more serious crime, so a policy of tolerating acts of lawlessness by overpoliticized students leads to more serious problems.”

University of South Carolina Mandates Political Indoctrination and Orthodoxy (05/13/02) new
At Foundation for Individual Rights in Education
“The University of South Carolina (USC), in a required course for a degree-granting program, has adopted ‘Guidelines for Classroom Discussion’ that demand adherence to a narrow set of partisan political assumptions — on pain of being graded poorly for honest disagreement. Although USC is a public institution, bound by the First Amendment, it has created an ideological ‘loyalty oath’ that constitutes a profound threat to both freedom of speech and freedom of conscience in South Carolina and across the country.”

Women’s studies mandates seen as threats to free speech (05/16/02) new
By Ellen Sorokin in The Washington Times
“The course syllabus, distributed in January, specifically outlines eight prerequisites during class discussion, which counts for 20 percent of the students’ overall grade. The course — ‘Women’s Studies 797: Seminar in Women’s Studies’ — is listed on the program’s Web site as ‘required’ for a certificate of graduate study in women’s studies. One of the prerequisites is that students ‘acknowledge that racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism and other institutionalized forms of oppression exist.’”

Berkeley Course on Mideast Raises Concerns (05/16/02) new
In The New York Times by Chris Gaither
“The political tensions in the Middle East have once again roiled the University of California, with the most recent incident focused on a catalog course description.... The listing for the course, ‘The Politics and Poetics of Palestinian Resistance,’ one of the choices for a required course in reading and composition, was pulled for review last week by university officials after protests by civil liberties and pro-Israeli groups.... The last line of his course description drew the most ire, especially among civil libertarians: ‘Conservative thinkers are encouraged to seek other sections.’”

Replacing Airport Screeners Proves Tough (05/15/02) new
In Washington Post by Sara Kehaulani Goo
“After 4,800 people applied for 600 federal airport screening jobs at Baltimore-Washington International, the Transportation Security Administration confidently removed the job application from its Web site. Then the problems started. Hundreds of applicants either failed the government’s tests for prospective screeners or they didn’t even show up for the exam, according to a TSA official. ‘Surprisingly, the numbers of the latter were higher than we expected,’ he said.”

Global Warming Models Labeled “Fairy Tale” By Team of Scientists (05/14/02) new
At Cybercast News Service by Marc Morano
“A team of international scientists Monday said climate models showing global warming are based on a ‘fairy tale’ of computer projections. The scientists met on Capitol Hill to expose what they see as a dearth of scientific evidence about global warming. Hartwig Volz, a geophysicist with the RWE Research Lab in Germany questioned the merit of the climate projections coming from the United Nations sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC.) The IPCC climate projections have fueled worldwide support for the Kyoto Protocol, which aims to restrict the greenhouse gases thought to cause global warming.”

Climate change faults and fears (05/12/02) new
By Pete du Pont in The Washington Times
“While climate models cannot be expected to simulate future weather, they should be able to accurately depict the Earth’s present climate and to simulate changes in the frequency and type of the weather events that make up ‘climate.’ Since they cannot, GCM predictions of climate change are statistical exercises with little bearing on reality and certainly should not serve as the basis for government policy.”

Jimmy Carter: America basher (05/15/02) new
By Jonah Goldberg at TownHall
“It’s an unusual thing for a former president to more or less choose sides against the United States and with a hostile nation ruled by a ruthless dictator. Unusual, that is, in the sense that most U.S. presidents — current or former — don’t do this sort of thing. Unfortunately, Carter is the exception that proves the rule.”

Death rattle? (05/13/02) new
By Laura Miller at Salon
“Beyond the familiar schism between the Sunnis and the Shiites, the faith is spectacularly diverse, from the mystical brotherhoods of the Sufis, to the puritanical Wahabbites, to (what remains of) the relatively secularized cosmopolitan elites of more developed countries like Egypt. It makes as much sense to draw conclusions about all Muslims on the basis of the beliefs of the Taliban or bin Laden as it does to expect a Quaker to light candles to Santa Barbara or a Unitarian minister to plant bombs in abortion clinics simply because other people who call themselves Christians do so.”

Beyond the Numbers: A hopeless state (05/15/02) new
By Ron Dermer in The Jerusalem Post
“In fact, the recipe for making a suicide bomber is one part fanaticism and one part hope. The fanaticism is bred in a culture of death, where terrorist recruits are meticulously brainwashed to believe that their noble ends justify any means. Still, a fanatical mindset only sets the fuse. Hope is the spark that lights it. Suicide bombers would not be so quick to die if they didn’t believe that the cause they so fanatically pursue will be advanced by their sacrifice.”

Gaza’s Children Worship Martyrdom (05/14/02) new
In The Washington Post by Hamza Hendawi
“In Gaza’s funerals for ‘shaheeds,’ or martyrs, and in rallies by Palestinian factions such as Arafat’s Fatah or the militant Islamic group Hamas, children as young as three or four are outfitted with combat fatigues, masks and toy guns. Such occasions routinely attract hundreds of children, all accustomed by now to the deafening noise made by gunmen firing in the air.”

Exploding Myths: Why Israel’s war on terrorism is working. (05/13/02) new
By Jonathan Chait at Slate
“Palestinian terrorism does not result from Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, but from Israel’s existence. Palestinian terrorism long predates the 1967 occupation; the Palestine Liberation Organization was formed in 1964, three years earlier. But hasn’t the more recent phenomenon of suicide bombing come about because of long-simmering Palestinian despair? Not really. Suicide bombings started only after the 1993 Oslo Accords, which provided Palestinians with their best opportunity for a state.”

Columnist Andrew Sullivan Bites Paper; Paper Bites Back (05/14/02) new
In The Washington Post by Howard Kurtz
“Andrew Sullivan, the confrontational conservative columnist, has been attempting the high-wire act of writing for the New York Times while frequently whacking the Times for liberal bias on his Web site. Now the tightrope has snapped. Sullivan, who once wrote a biweekly column for the New York Times Magazine, says he has been ‘barred indefinitely from writing any more’ for the magazine. The popular Weblog writer says the directive came from Executive Editor Howell Raines. ”

New York Times v. Sullivan (05/14/02) new
By Nick Schulz at Tech Central Station
“There is already chatter among the chattering asses dissecting Sullivan’s banishment. Slate’s Mickey Kaus and John Ellis of Fast Company fame suggest it is because of Raines’ need for control. Meanwhile the folks at The American Prospect — the terrific lefty publication edited by Robert Kuttner — say that explanation is way off base. Actually, they call it ‘paranoid.’ They say Sullivan was dropped because he has taken shots at the Times for its biased coverage and shoddy reporting.”

The Cultures of Newsrooms: A Book Unfit for The New York Times (05/15/02) new
By Nat Hentoff in The Village Voice
“Unlike Bernard Goldberg’s bestselling Bias, McGowan’s Coloring the News has received generally favorable reviews, even in such papers as The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, which are sharply criticized in his book. But the influential New York Times Book Review has so far ignored McGowan’s indictment of much of the press — an analysis that, as Peter Schrag, no right-winger, says in the Columbia Journalism Review, ‘has focused attention on important and troubling issues.’”

The news we heard from a guy at Handgun Control (05/16/02) new
By Ann Coulter at Town Hall
“But for bald-faced lies, nothing beats the [New York] Times’ preposterous characterization of Supreme Court precedent. The most recent case directly raising the Second Amendment was United States vs. Miller, decided in 1939.... The Miller case simply defined the types of guns protected by the Second Amendment. Reviewing the case of two bootleggers charged with failing to pay federal taxes on a sawed-off shotgun, the court concluded that the ‘instrument’ was not covered by the Second Amendment.”

Guns are bad. The New York Times says so. (05/08/02) new
By David Nieporent at Jumping to Conclusions
“The Justice Department submitted briefs to the Supreme Court on Monday that said that the Second Amendment protected an individual right, not just a collective right, to bear arms.... And then the [New York] Times had to try to prove that this is a novel theory, that John Ashcroft was going against established law. Unfortunately, since he wasn’t, the Times had to make something up: ‘The Supreme Court’s view has been that the the Second Amendment protected only those rights that have “some reasonable relationship to the preservation of efficiency of a well regulated militia,” as the court put it in United States v. Miller, a 1939 decision that remains the court’s latest word on the subject.’ Actually, this cleverly clips the Supreme Court quote in just the right part so that she can paraphrase it incorrectly.”

Lawyer says animals have rights too (05/17/02) new
In Contra Costa Times from Reuters
“Basing his arguments on well-documented studies of their mental powers, emotional bonds, social skills, language and self-awareness, Wise says there is also increasing evidence to suggest that African elephants, African Gray parrots, honeybees and dogs may merit such legal rights. In an age when it would be unthinkable to use newborn human babies, the profoundly senile, or the insane for biomedical research or display them for public entertainment, Wise asks why dolphins, chimps or elephants — some of whom are more sophisticated than tiny infants — should have to endure such indignities.”

Fighting for Moe: Activists Pursuing Legal Status for Animals One Case at a Time (05/13/02) new
At ABCNews.com by Amanda Onion
“Moe’s owners think they know what’s best for him. So does the city of West Covina, Calif., so does the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and so does the director of a local sanctuary. The problem is, even though he’s 36 years old, Moe the chimp can’t speak for himself. That’s partly why the custody battle between Moe’s owners and the city of West Covina has continued for nearly four years. It’s also why a growing cadre of prominent lawyers is lobbying to broaden the way we define all animals and animal rights in the U.S. court system.”

Germany votes for animal rights (05/15/02) new
At CNN without Byline
“A majority of lawmakers in the Bundestag voted on Friday to add ‘and animals’ to a clause that obliges the state to respect and protect the dignity of humans. The main impact of the measure will be to restrict the use of animals in experiments. In the end 543 lawmakers in Germany’s lower house of parliament voted in favour of giving animals constitutional rights. Nineteen voted against it and 15 abstained.”

Darwinism in a flutter (05/11/02) new
Review by Peter D. Smith of Of Moths and Men: Intrigue, Tragedy & the Peppered Moth at Guardian Unlimited
“The question Hooper sets out to answer is why such a shoddy piece of scientific research was so readily accepted by the scientific community and allowed to attain iconic status in evolutionary biology. Her answer: because scientists wanted to believe it. Once it had been cited enough times, it became an irrefutable article of faith. Hooper’s meticulous research provides a fascinating insight into the fallibility of scientists — after all, as she points out, they are only human.”

Anchor Steam: Why the Evening News is Worse Than “O’Reilly” (05/10/02) new
By Rob Walker at The New Republic Online
“So what did I learn in three weeks of watching the evening news? Basically that the network news, which defends itself against detractors by invoking the earnest sobriety of its broadcasts, contains as much hype and fake populism as any of its cable competitors. In fact, in some ways it’s actually worse. As distasteful as the cable shout fests can be, they generally assume that their viewers can handle a detailed discussion, conflicting views, and lengthy segments on a particular issue.”

Why is “morality” a dirty word? (05/13/02)
By Dennis Byrne in The Chicago Tribune
“We are a diverse nation founded on respect for others’ beliefs, religious or otherwise. But that principle has become subverted by this hell-bent determination to avoid discussion of the moral aspects of conduct. When you think of it, this avoidance makes no sense, because we are a nation operating on such concepts as justice and equality — concepts that are fundamentally moral in nature.”

Christianity turns the other cheek: Where is the outrage when a church is desecrated? (05/13/02)
By Raymond J. de Souza in The National Post
“It needs to be said. The occupation of the Church of the Nativity by armed Palestinian terrorists was a gravely anti-Christian act. Much has been made of how the basilica was filthy but not seriously damaged. To speak only of what happens to a church physically is to miss the point. One of Christianity’s holiest shrines was profaned by armed terrorists. It is blasphemy to use the house of God as a military refuge. For more than a month, the faithful were denied access to the basilica to pray while the gunmen used its status as a house of prayer as a tactical advantage.”

Family Matters: Welfare reform has liberals and conservatives calling for government action. (06/02)
By Mike Lynch at Reason Online
“Why exactly it’s up to ‘us’ to set goals for less-educated women and to slot them into their proper role in promoting that great fiction of ‘society’s interest’ is left unsaid. Maybe even less-educated women are smart enough to get by without conservatives shoving them to the altar — or liberals shoving them into classrooms.”

Reliving 9/11: Too Much? Too Soon? (05/12/02)
In The New York Times by Julie Salamon
“Television has long been the defining medium for great and terrible national events like war, assassinations and presidential elections. But nothing in the past has generated this sheer volume of reportage and commentary, because Sept. 11 was an unprecedented event occurring in an age of unprecedented media exposure.... The variety and quantity have been staggering — valuable (much of it), but also alarming.”

Megachurches as Minitowns (05/09/02)
In The New York Times by Patricia Leigh Brown
“Southeast Christian is an example of a new breed of megachurch — a full-service ‘24/7’ sprawling village, which offers many of the conveniences and trappings of secular life wrapped around a spiritual core. It is possible to eat, shop, go to school, bank, work out, scale a rock-climbing wall and pray there, all without leaving the grounds. These churches are becoming civic in a way unimaginable since the 13th century and its cathedral towns. No longer simply places to worship, they have become part resort, part mall, part extended family and part town square.”

Is anti-Catholicism the new anti-Semitism? (05/09/02)
By Rev. Ephraem Chifley in The Age
“Considering that most instances of paedophilia involve not priests but live-in step-fathers, clerical celibacy cannot be considered a significant element in this tragedy. Strange, isn’t it, that cartoonists and comedians don’t make jokes about paedophilia and mum’s new boyfriend, or that there are so few voices calling for a royal commission into marriage break-up and child protection? That, of course, would call for society to examine its substitution of personal fulfilment for duty — far easier to attack a large and slow-moving target, like the church, especially as it is apt frequently to say inconvenient and frightening things.”

Doing Nothing is Something (05/13/02)
By Anna Quindlen in Newsweek via MSNBC
“It is not simply that it is pathetic to consider the lives of children who don’t have a moment between piano and dance and homework to talk about their day or just search for split ends, an enormously satisfying leisure-time activity of my youth. There is also ample psychological research suggesting that what we might call ‘doing nothing’ is when human beings actually do their best thinking, and when creativity comes to call. Perhaps we are creating an entire generation of people whose ability to think outside the box, as the current parlance of business has it, is being systematically stunted by scheduling.”

Who’s ugly now? (05/04/02)
By Mark Steyn in The Spectator
“Muslims killed thousands of Americans, but America doesn’t have anti-Muslim political parties — just a goofy President who hosts a month of Ramadan knees-ups at the White House and enjoins schoolkids to get an Islamic penpal. America has millions of Muslims, but they don’t firebomb synagogues and beat up Jews, and, if they did, the police wouldn’t turn a blind eye.”

Bush is right: Skip international court (05/08/02)
By Editors of The Seattle Times
“President Bush is right to pull out of the treaty for the International Criminal Court, which is an agreement that would give a foreign court jurisdiction over acts committed by U.S. soldiers. This is not the International Court of Justice, or ‘World Court,’ which has existed since 1945 to settle disputes that governments bring to it. This court is to have jurisdiction over individuals. It promises to act only if national courts don’t, but it will make the decision to intervene itself, which is a breach of national sovereignty.”

The New York Times Gloats Over Pope’s Illness, Awaits His Death (05/09/02)
By J. P. Zmirak at FrontPage Magazine
“It fills Keller, and liberal Catholics, with intolerant rage that a Church is permitted to exist which claims continuity with the past and divine authority, which refuses to cave in to their opinions, which dares to dissent from dissent. They will not follow their consciences — which point the way to the Episcopal church down the road — and they’re furious that they cannot coerce the consciences of other Catholics, pull down the Church’s leadership, destroy her internal consistency and integrity, then smoke a joint in her rubble.”

How Jenin battle became a “massacre” (05/06/02)
By Sharon Sadeh at Media Guardian
“In line with the prevalent tradition, the liberal British press has made an extensive and creative use of figurative language in its reports, which betrayed both bias and an attempt to elicit emotional response from the readers which could be translated into increased sales circulation.”

The Big Jenin Lie (05/08/02)
By Richard Starr in The Weekly Standard
“Precisely a month ago, on April 8, the Palestinian news agency Wafa was reporting that Israel had committed the ‘massacre of the 21st century’ in the Palestinian refugee camp in Jenin. ‘Medical sources’ informed Wafa of ‘hundreds of martyrs.’ This was a lie, concocted not only for local consumption — to keep the Palestinian people whipped up in a patriotic, Israel-hating frenzy — but mostly for export to the West.”

The brutal Afghan winter hits Jenin: Announcing the first British Press Award For Total Fantasy (05/06/02)
By Mark Steyn in The National Post
“Nonetheless, in recognition of my London friends’ spectacularly inept record since Sept. 11, I am proud to announce the inauguration of the British Press Award For Total Fantasy. Journalists can enter as many of their reports as they wish. Can’t decide whether that story based on a Hamas press release is more risible than that dispatch based on the Radio Taliban lunchtime news? Hey, send us both! Winners will receive a grand prize of five thousand pounds!!!! However, in keeping with traditional Fleet Street standards of numerical accuracy, when the cheque eventually shows up a month later it’ll be for £8.47.”

DUPED! When journalists fall for fake news (n.d.)
At Society of Professional Journalists by Chris Berdik
“Media hoaxes are nothing new. Both Ben Franklin and Edgar Allen Poe wrote satirical yarns and passed them off as news articles. And in the 19th century, frontier newspapers were filled with tall tales of murder and mayhem. It seems that as long as there’s been mass media in America, there’s been somebody around to monkey with it. Yet there is something new, as it turns out. In recent years, the public’s confidence in and regard for news media has plummeted.”

The Internationalist (05/03-09/02)
Christopher Hitchens on George Orwell in Weekly Literary Supplement of LA Weekly
“Orwell was an early and consistent foe of European imperialism and foresaw the end of colonial rule. He was one of the first to volunteer to bear arms against fascism and Nazism in Spain. And, while soldiering in Catalonia, he saw through the biggest and most seductive lie of them all — the false promise of a radiant future offered by the intellectual underlings of Stalinism.”

The “Dinosaurs” Are Taking Over (05/13/02)
Jane Black interviews Lawrence Lessig at Business Week Online
“Who should control the Internet? If Stanford University law professor Lawrence Lessig is right, the Internet will soon belong to Hollywood studios, record labels, and cable operators — corporate giants that he says are trying to cordon off chunks of the once-open data network.... Lessig argues that imminent changes to Internet architecture plus court decisions that restrict the use of intellectual property will co-opt the Net on behalf of Establishment players — and stifle innovation.”

Two Cheers for Colonialism (05/10/02)
By Dinesh D’Souza in The Chronicle Review
“There is nothing uniquely Western about colonialism.... The West did not become rich and powerful through colonial oppression.... The reason the West became so affluent and dominant in the modern era is that it invented three institutions: science, democracy, and capitalism. All those institutions are based on universal impulses and aspirations, but those aspirations were given a unique expression in Western civilization.... The descendants of colonialism are better off than they would be if colonialism had never happened. ”

The SAT Comes Full Circle: Proposed changes in the Big Test guarantee more racial special-pleading. (05/06/02)
By Heather Mac Donald in City Journal
“Racial quota pushers are laying a big trap. For years, they have argued that the college admissions aptitude test, the SAT, discriminated against blacks and Hispanics.... Despite its faulty arguments, the race industry easily persuaded colleges virtually to ignore low SAT grades when evaluating black and Hispanic students. Now, the race industry is about to claim its biggest victory of all — dismantling the SAT entirely.”

Disassembling the Catholic Church, Public Education and the U.S. Navy (05/01/02)
By Diane Alden at NewsMax
“If the leadership in all the institutions don’t get a grip, speak up and out, defend Western civilization and traditional beliefs, the scandals of the Catholic Church will pale in comparison to the horrors inflicted by the ‘facilitators’ and ‘change agents’ of the despotic left. Our war on terrorism should include a war on the ideas and the people who promote moral relativism and the use of trends like diversity and sensitivity training to produce the new statist man.”

Conservatism can survive despite liberal bias (05/05/02)
By Debra J. Saunders in The San Francisco Chronicle
“Of course the news media are liberal.... Better to get the facts with a little bias than no facts at all.... Besides, most reporters — not columnists, who are paid to be opinionated — try to keep their ideology under wraps. Most also strive for balance within a story. It’s in the story ideas, however, that the bias really shows.”

Biologists Sought a Treaty; Now They Fault It (05/07/02)
In The New York Times by Andrew C. Revkin
“A treaty enacted nine years ago to conserve and exploit the diversity of species on earth is seriously impeding biologists’ efforts to catalog and comprehend that same natural bounty, many scientists say.... As a result, biologists say, in many tropical regions it is easier to cut a forest than to study it.”

Fall and Rise of Christianity (05/04/02)
In The Wichita Eagle by Kristin E. Holmes
“When scholars talk about the death of Christianity and the rise of the secular state, Penn State University professor Philip Jenkins just remembers the south. Not south as in Georgia or Mississippi, but south as in sections of Latin America, Africa and Asia. There, Christianity is not only alive but thriving. ‘Christianity is not in free fall,’ said Jenkins, a professor of history and religious studies at Penn State. ‘It’s booming and growing very fast in absolute and relative numbers.’”

A Hard Look at Jenin (05/07/02)
By Richard Hart Sinnreich in The Washington Post
“But before Americans, assaulted by dramatic pictures of Jenin refugee camp’s rubble-strewn streets and shattered buildings, draw hasty conclusions about the Israeli Army’s recent operations, we had better face up to an uncomfortable reality: In an urbanizing world in which enemies actuated by ideological or religious fervor feel no obligation to conform to Western norms of military behavior, scenes such as those in Jenin are likely to increasingly become the rule in war rather than the exception.”

Occasionally, some links are moved from this section into the Featured Webpages Trove.

bottom
Classic articles that are, or should be, famous (new at top)

The End of History? (Summer 1989)
By Francis Fukuyama in The National Interest
“The triumph of the West, of the Western idea, is evident first of all in the total exhaustion of viable systematic alternatives to Western liberalism. In the past decade, there have been unmistakable changes in the intellectual climate of the world’s two largest communist countries, and the beginnings of significant reform movements in both. But this phenomenon extends beyond high politics and it can be seen also in the ineluctable spread of consumerist Western culture in such diverse contexts as the peasants’ markets and color television sets now omnipresent throughout China, the cooperative restaurants and clothing stores opened in the past year in Moscow, the Beethoven piped into Japanese department stores, and the rock music enjoyed alike in Prague, Rangoon, and Tehran. What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government. This is not to say that there will no longer be events to fill the pages of Foreign Affairs’s yearly summaries of international relations, for the victory of liberalism has occurred primarily in the realm of ideas or consciousness and is as yet incomplete in the real or material world. But there are powerful reasons for believing that it is the ideal that will govern the material world in the long run.”

An Explosion of Green (Apr. 1995)
By Bill McKibben in The Atlantic
“In the early nineteenth century the cleric Timothy Dwight reported that the 240-mile journey from Boston to New York City passed through no more than twenty miles of forest. Surveying the changes wrought by farmers and loggers in New Hampshire, he wrote, ‘The forests are not only cut down, but there appears little reason to hope that they will ever grow again.’ Less than two centuries later, despite great increases in the state’s population, 90 percent of New Hampshire is covered by forest. Vermont was 35 percent woods in 1850 and is 80 percent today, and even Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island have seen woodlands rebound to the point where they cover nearly three fifths of southern New England. This process, which began as farmers abandoned the cold and rocky pastures of the East for the fertile fields of the Midwest, has not yet run its course.... This unintentional and mostly unnoticed renewal of the rural and mountainous East — not the spotted owl, not the salvation of Alaska’s pristine ranges — represents the great environmental story of the United States, and in some ways of the whole world. Here, where ‘suburb’ and ‘megalopolis’ were added to the world’s vocabulary, an explosion of green is under way, one that could offer hope to much of the rest of the planet.”

The Doomslayer (Feb. 1997)
By Ed Regis in Wired
“The world is getting progressively poorer, and it’s all because of population, or more precisely, overpopulation. There’s a finite store of resources on our pale blue dot, spaceship Earth, our small and fragile tiny planet, and we’re fast approaching its ultimate carrying capacity. The limits to growth are finally upon us, and we’re living on borrowed time. The laws of population growth are inexorable. Unless we act decisively, the final result is written in stone: mass poverty, famine, starvation, and death. Time is short, and we have to act now. That’s the standard and canonical litany.... There’s just one problem with The Litany, just one slight little wee imperfection: every item in that dim and dreary recitation, each and every last claim, is false.... Thus saith The Doomslayer, one Julian L. Simon, a neither shy nor retiring nor particularly mild-mannered professor of business administration at a middling eastern-seaboard state university. Simon paints a somewhat different picture of the human condition circa 1997. ‘Our species is better off in just about every measurable material way,’ he says. ‘Just about every important long-run measure of human material welfare shows improvement over the decades and centuries, in the United States and the rest of the world. Raw materials — all of them — have become less scarce rather than more. The air in the US and in other rich countries is irrefutably safer to breathe. Water cleanliness has improved. The environment is increasingly healthy, with every prospect that this trend will continue.’”

A brilliant parody:

Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity (Spring/Summer 1996)
By Alan Sokal in Social Text
“There are many natural scientists, and especially physicists, who continue to reject the notion that the disciplines concerned with social and cultural criticism can have anything to contribute, except perhaps peripherally, to their research. Still less are they receptive to the idea that the very foundations of their worldview must be revised or rebuilt in the light of such criticism. Rather, they cling to the dogma imposed by the long post-Enlightenment hegemony over the Western intellectual outlook, which can be summarized briefly as follows: that there exists an external world, whose properties are independent of any individual human being and indeed of humanity as a whole; that these properties are encoded in ‘eternal’ physical laws; and that human beings can obtain reliable, albeit imperfect and tentative, knowledge of these laws by hewing to the ‘objective’ procedures and epistemological strictures prescribed by the (so-called) scientific method.”

... and, in explanation, ...

A Physicist Experiments with Cultural Studies (May/June 1996)
By Alan Sokal in Lingua Franca
“For some years I’ve been troubled by an apparent decline in the standards of rigor in certain precincts of the academic humanities. But I’m a mere physicist: If I find myself unable to make heads or tails of jouissance and differance, perhaps that just reflects my own inadequacy. So, to test the prevailing intellectual standards, I decided to try a modest (though admittedly uncontrolled) experiment: Would a leading North American journal of cultural studies — whose editorial collective includes such luminaries as Fredric Jameson and Andrew Ross — publish an article liberally salted with nonsense if (a) it sounded good and (b) it flattered the editors’ ideological preconceptions? The answer, unfortunately, is yes.... What’s going on here? Could the editors really not have realized that my article was written as a parody?”

Networks Need a Reality Check: A firsthand account of liberal bias at CBS News. (02/13/1996)
By Bernard Goldbert in The Wall Street Journal
“There are lots of reasons fewer people are watching network news, and one of them, I’m more convinced than ever, is that our viewers simply don’t trust us. And for good reason. The old argument that the networks and other ‘media elites’ have a liberal bias is so blatantly true that it’s hardly worth discussing anymore. No, we don’t sit around in dark corners and plan strategies on how we’re going to slant the news. We don’t have to. It comes naturally to most reporters.”

There is No Time, There Will Be Time (11/18/1998)
By Peggy Noonan in Forbes ASAP
“When you consider who is gifted and crazed with rage... when you think of the terrorist places and the terrorist countries... who do they hate most? The Great Satan, the United States. What is its most important place? Some would say Washington. I would say the great city of the United States is the great city of the world, the dense 10-mile-long island called Manhattan, where the economic and media power of the nation resides, the city that is the psychological center of our modernity, our hedonism, our creativity, our hard-shouldered hipness, our unthinking arrogance.”

top bottom

The View’s Featured Websites, Series, and Multi-Part Articles
(links to other sites)

Mostly sources of news and opinion (alphabetical)

Arts & Letters Daily
Articles of Note — New Books — Essays and Opinion

Business Daily Review
Features and Analysis — Opinions and Reviews — Strategy and Tactics

new Catholic News Service
U.S. Catholic Conference

new Catholic Telecommunications
Bringing people together

City Journal
The Manhattan Institute

CNSNews
Cybercast News Service

Corante
Tech News. Filtered Daily.

First Things
The Journal of Religion and Public Life

FrontPage Magazine
David Horowitz

The Hoover Digest: Research and Opinion on Public Policy
Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace

Jim Romenesko’s MediaNews
Poynter.org

JunkScience
All the junk that’s fit to debunk

Lucianne’s News Forum
Latest Articles

NewsMax
America’s News Page

Notable Quotables Archive @ Media Research Center
“A bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous,
sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media.”

RealClear Politics
political commentary for the political junkie

new Reuters
The World’s Leading Provider of Financial Information and News

SciTech Daily Review
Features and Background — Books and Media — Analysis and Opinion

Statistical Assessment Service (STATS)
“A non-partisan, non-profit research organization... devoted to the accurate use of scientific and social research in public policy debate.”

Tech Central Station
Where Free Markets Meet Technology

new United Press International
From the News Wire

Opinion Journal
Wall Street Journal editorial page

The Wilson Quarterly
Surveying the world of ideas for the intellectually curious reader

WorldNetDaily
A Free Press for a Free People

new ZENIT News Agency
The World Seen from Rome

top
Reference, etc.

American Heritage Dictionary @ Bartleby.com
Fourth Edition

Columbia Encyclopedia @ Bartleby.com
Sixth Edition

The U.S. Constitution Online
Including Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, and other fundamental documents of US history and law

Founder’s Library
Historical American documents

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature @ Bartleby.com
Eighteen volumes, originally published 1907-1921

Catholic Encyclopedia
“Actual work on the Encyclopedia was begun in January, 1905. It was completed in April, 1914.”

IntraText Digital Library
The missing link between text and hypertext

The 1911 Edition Encyclopedia Britannica
“This 1911 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica is filled with historical information that is still relevant today. It fills 29 volumes and contains over 44 million words. The articles are written by more than 1500 authors within their various fields of expertise.”

new The Internet Archive
Building an “Internet Library”

top
Collections, etc.

Special Wayback Collections at The Internet Archive:

new The September 11 Web Archive
“This collection of archived documents was commissioned by the Library of Congress to preserve digital materials covering the events of September 11, 2001.”

new US Election 2000
“This collection was commissioned by the Library of Congress to archive digital materials covering the Election of 2000. It contains 800 gigabytes of data gathered from 8/1/2000 to 1/21/2001.”

new Web Pioneers: The Early Years
“A special Wayback collection of websites that began the Internet revolution.”

A chronicle of high-level USA government actions in September 2001, at two websites:

Ten Days in September (WP)
“This series is based on interviews with President Bush, Vice President Cheney and many other key officials inside the administration and out. The interviews were supplemented by notes of National Security Council meetings made available to The Washington Post, along with notes taken by several participants.”

Response to Terror (Austin American Stateman)
“This is an eight-part series by The Washington Post describing the response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks at the highest levels of government.”

News coverage of September 11 and the aftermath:

Fighting Terrorism: America Retaliates (BG)
“Archive stories from the Boston Globe: Tuesday Sept. 11 – Sunday Sept. 16”

Attack on America (Guardian Unlimited)
Special Report with continuing coverage

Miscellaneous Collections:

Catholic Poets @ ELCore.Net
Joyce Kilmer, Alice Meynell, Joseph Mary Plunkett

Verse @ Bartleby.com
Public-domain Anthologies and Individual Volumes

HTI American Verse Project
“The American Verse Project is a collaborative project between the University of Michigan Humanities Text Initiative (HTI) and the University of Michigan Press. The project is assembling an electronic archive of volumes of American poetry prior to 1920.”

Newman Reader
Life and Works of Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman

What We Think of America (Granta)
“In this issue twenty-four writers drawn from many countries describe the part America has played in their lives — for better or worse — and deliver their estimate of the good and the bad it has done as the world’s supreme political, military, economic and cultural power.”

Hot Issues: Persecution (Christianity Today)
Reports of contemporary persecution of Christians world-wide

Gay Activism in Schools (Teachers in Focus)
“A single-themed issue on homosexual activism in the schools”

Skepticism Toward The Skeptical Environmentalist (Scientific American)
The Great Debate between Lomborg and Anti-Lomborgs

new Document Archive in English (ZENIT)
The World Seen from Rome

new STATS Spotlight (Statistical Assessment Service)
“Here are pieces of more extensive unpublished STATS research.”

top
Other columnists (alphabetical)

Diane Alden
inflyovercountry

Ann Coulter
Town Hall

Bill Dunn
Faith and Funnies

Victor Davis Hanson
National Review Online

Charles Krauthammer
Washington Post

Michael Kelly
Washington Post

Jonah Goldberg
National Review Online

new Jonah Goldberg
Town Hall

new Nat Hentoff
The Village Voice

John Mallon
Peter’sVoice

Steve Milloy
Fox News

Peggy Noonan
Opinion Journal

Fred Reed
Commentary with Moxie

Mark Steyn
National Post

Deb Weiss
A View from Here

George F. Will
Washington Post

top
Weblogs (alphabetical)
Annunciations
Michael Dubruiel
(husband of blogger Amy Welborn)

BrinkLindsey.com
International politics, economics, and foreign policy

CampusNonsense
Exposing Left-Wing Lunacy

Catholic and Enjoying It!
Mark Shea
“So That No Thought of Mine, No Matter How Stupid, Should Ever Go Unpublished Again!”

ChristianityToday.com
Compiled by Ted Olsen and others

The Conservative Underground
Oubai Shabandar, Shanna Bowman, Dan Moody, Tim Richards
Culture Progress Justice

The Corner
National Review Online
(The Blog Mother Ship, according to Kevin James)

cut on the bias
Susanna Cornett
“keeping an eye on the spins and weirdness of media, crime and everyday life”

EveTushnet.com
“Conservatism reborn in twisted sisterhood”

Fool’s Folly
Emily Stimpson
Proverbs 12:23

The Goliard Blog
Kevin James
Your Destination for Deep Thoughts and Alleged Insights

Holy Weblog!
M. J. Garcia
A faithful look at the Net.

In Between Naps
Amy Welborn
(wife of blogger Michael Dubruiel)

Juan Gato’s Bucket o’ Rants
Bunch of crap from a moron.

Jumping to Conclusions
David Nieporent
“Thoughts, comments, musings on life, politics, current events and the media.”

Louder Fenn’s Whirligig
Perpetual ephemera

Mallon’s Media Watch
John Mallon
“MMW is a Catholic blog site featuring news analysis, response to and commentary on misinformed media reports on the Catholic Church.”

Media Minded
(An anonymous copy editor looks at the media, especially newspapers.)

new Minute Particulars
Mark DB

OxBlog
“The political rantings of Josh Chafetz, a graduate student in political theory at Oxford, Dan Urman, a graduate student in international relations at Oxford, and Anand Giridharadas, a junior at the University of Michigan spending the year at Oxford.”

new Sand in the Gears
Anthony Woodlief
Clogging up juggernauts since 1967.

ScottRubush.com
Scott’s little outpost of sanity on the web.

Veritas
Chris Burgwald
“A blog among friends devoted to the usually serious but occasionally frivolous search for truth in things theological, philosophical, political, historical, etc. etc.”

top
Series and multi-part articles of news or opinion (new at top)

A four-part series “Profiles in Discourage” by “Media Minded” on his experiences in a mid-sized city at a mid-sized newspaper taken over by a gigantic media conglomerate:

Part I
“In the mid-1990s, my small Southern city was struck by a series of newsworthy deaths. Within the space of a year, three or four black men had been killed trying to dash across a freeway that ran beside their public housing project. The reason? A pedestrian bridge over the freeway was locked. Why had it been locked? The residents of the housing project requested that the city lock it to prevent drug dealers and other scum from invading their neighborhood. You’re probably thinking, ‘Well, you write one longish story explaining all this, then move on to the next day’s news.’ Oh no. This was a springboard for a weeklong series on the terrible plight of poor black people who were ‘isolated’ (false) and ‘forced’ to dash across a freeway so they could take part in the life of the community (again, false). It was ready-made melodrama about the terrible effects of ‘institutional racism’ that fell apart under ordinary scrutiny.... The entire series was apparently designed to garner some journalism awards (it didn’t) and win the paper’s new managers approval among the city’s minorities (it did). The net result was that the city added a few more bus lines into the project. But the series did cause a stir in the community. When spot-on criticism was presented in letters to the editor, the series was defended (internally) as casting light on a long-overlooked part of the community. But this light illuminated nothing. In the end, it was a celebration of black victimhood and the never-ending white racism (overt, subtle and institutional) that forced poor black men to run for their lives across a busy freeway. And it just might have been the last nail in the coffin of my liberalism.”

Part II
“In 1997, we received word that the Ku Klux Klan was going to march in our fair city in the fall. Many of us who had worked at the paper before it was swallowed up by that huge media corporation were like, ‘Eh, OK. Put the story low on the local front, because hate-group monitors such as the Southern Poverty Law Center and others go out of their way to emphasize that these nuts are craving publicity and confrontation.’ We’d followed the same strategy at a much smaller paper I had worked at when the Klan came to town. The result was that about a dozen people came out to watch about a dozen Klansmen march around and holler for about a half-hour. That was it. But in the budget meeting that day, it became obvious that we were not going to have anything like that. Our new, ambitious executive editor was adamant that this was a major story that needed to be the lead story on the front page.... The march itself was unbelieveable. I don’t think the city had seen anything quite like it since the Civil Rights era. Something like 2,000 people showed up to scream and jeer at about two dozen KKK a**holes. There were several scuffles and a dozen or so arrests. Klansmen were pelted with rocks and eggs, and some of them had their hoods pulled off. Now that all sounds well and good, and I certainly feel no sympathy for these racist monsters, but this was exactly what the Klan wanted! They got to portray themselves as brave defenders of the white race to their ‘target audience.’ They were videotaping the whole spectacle to use in recruiting. And we’d set the table for them!”

Part III
“We got our first taste of corporate-mandated ‘diversity’ not long after the media behemoth swallowed up our daily paper. It came in the form of... diversity training! Argh! If you’ve ever worked for a big corporation, you probably know the drill. Everybody files into a conference room. The lights dim. A PowerPoint presentation is made about the different communication techniques of different ethnic groups (‘Hispanic people tend to use more hand gestures... Black people tend to speak loudly... Asians tend to be more deferential’) that only seemed to reinforce stereotypes. Also, there was a short video. The only part that stuck in my mind was the segment where the white actor complained to another white actor about a black co-worker getting a promotion solely because of his skin color. The video warned against the dangers of making broad assumptions about people or situations without complete information, but the real message was clear: Do not question the company’s affirmative-action policies! Ever! Or you’ll look like the bigot in the video!

Part IV
“A couple of years later, we were looking to fill a fairly important position. Our assistant managing editor (AME) was steered to a candidate named ‘Lamont Washington’ (not his real name) by our new executive editor (the same minority mentioned above), who sent our AME an e-mail that said something along the lines of this: ‘Here’s a resume from Lamont Washington. Let’s get him in here for an interview as soon as possible. He sounds like he’d be a good, solid minority candidate.’ Well, ‘Lamont’ showed up a couple of days later for his interview, and he turned out to be a big old country-fried white boy! Surprise, surprise, surprise! Years of newspaper experience, but pale as a ghost. Needless to say, he didn’t get a marathon two-day interview (more like a half-day) and he didn’t get hired. Amazingly, neither did a Ivy-League-educated white guy who applied for the job, a copy editor who was working on the international edition of a world-famous newspaper. (His wife was about to have a child, and they were looking for a change of pace from the big city.) Who did we hire? A young, minority copy editor from a paper that was about the same size as ours. He ended up getting fired several months later when it became obvious he couldn’t handle the responsibilities thrust upon him.”

A two-part article on the USA and Iraq by Jonah Goldberg @ National Review Online:

Baghdad Delenda Est (Part One)
“Anyway, there are any number of excellent reasons to topple Saddam Hussein: We should have done it the first time; he tried to murder the first President Bush; he’s developing weapons of mass destruction; he gassed the Kurds; he’s got that pickle-sniffer mustache; whatever. I don’t care. All of that is a conversation for another day. The point for now is that Iraq shouldn’t have existed in the first place. It’s lasted this long thanks to the Stalinist repression of the Baath regime. And the only reason we didn’t get rid of it last time was that the Saudis despise the idea of toppling Hussein because they don’t want us to establish an attractive alternative to the nasty form of government they profit from. Well, boohoo for the Saudis. If they hadn’t found oil on their land they’d be a trivia question for students of comparative government today. Wouldn’t such a huge move inflame the Middle East? Sure. Wouldn’t such a humiliating effort give Osama bin Laden exactly what he wants? Yes. Wouldn’t this cause the European diplomats to drop their egg spoons in disgust over such barbarism? Most definitely. Wouldn’t the civilized world — with the notable exception of the British — turn its collective back on us? I guess so. All that would in all likelihood be true. Until we win.”

Baghdad Delenda Est (Part Two): Get on with it.
“I know — from painful experience — that there are lots of people out there who subscribe to the bumper-sticker slogan ‘peace through strength is like virginity through f**king.’ I had to argue with such folks through all of college (and much of high school). Such statements are black holes of stupidity — idiocy is crammed into such a small space that it folds upon itself and bends all reason and logic in its proximity. If peace cannot be attained through strength, I invite one of these bespectacled, purse-carrying, rice-paper-skinned, sandalistas to walk out into a prison yard. Let’s see how receptive Tiny and Mad Dog are to entreaties over the futility of violence. ‘Sir, there’s no need for fisticuffs, I would be glad to share my Snapple with you. Can’t you see this sort of conflict is precisely what the multinational corporations want?’ International relations is much more like a prison yard than like a college seminar at Brown. Yes, relations between democracies may be cordial — but that is an argument for turning Iraq into one, not for leaving it alone. It’s ironic: All of these people who think it imperative that the United States broker peace in the Middle East seem to think it’s a coincidence that the United States is the dominant military power in the world. If military might means nothing, why aren’t the Arabs and Israelis bending to the will and rhetoric of the Belgians or the Swiss?”

A three-part essay “How Contemporary American Poets are Denaturing the Poem” by Joan Houlihan @ Web Del Sol:

On the Prosing of Poetry
“Before writing was invented, poetry was used to mark special occasions and strong emotions and to burn the necessary stories — the myths and truths of a culture — into the memories of the people. Mnemonic devices such as sound, rhythm, and heightened, pictorial language, economy of expression (‘epigrammatic’ speech that encodes many meanings in as few words as possible) and assonance, consonance, alliteration, parallelism, were the branding irons used for the task. As well, these devices were incantatory, stirring primal responses to their sound and rhythm, and creating an atmosphere for the sacred and magical. Although spoken, poetry was not common; it was instead, a singular kind of speech, reserved for relaying important or sacred events, ensuring that such events would be remembered almost in a physical way, in the body’s deep response to sound, rhythm and imagery. Speaking poetically served a purpose. Speaking prosaically also served a purpose — to negotiate everyday reality, to speak of those things which were common to all and not worthy of long remembrance — to speak of the world in transit. Our ability to write did not erase the distinction. It took contemporary American poets, writing in deliberately flat prose about insignificant personal events and feelings; and editors, publishers and critics dubbing such anecdotes and everyday journal entries ‘poems,’ to erase the distinction. We have reached the point we are being asked to believe that a text block, chopped randomly into flat, declarative lines, is a poem. We are told to kneel and stare at this specimen of dead lines laid out in its little coffin on the page, and declare it alive. What do we say?”

I=N=C=O=H= E=R=E=N=T
“The need for coherence appears to be basic, perhaps even neurological. Science has proved the human brain strives to find a pattern, an order, a meaning in chaos. What isn’t coherent, we strive to make so. It satisfies us. Thus, before settling for separate, unconnected pieces, beautiful as they may be, we will look hard for connections. While shapes and colors can become untethered from their representation, or meaning, a poem can only become fully untethered from meaning if it is without words. This is because the smallest irreducible piece — the word — retains meaning, in and out of context. A totally meaningless poem would logically consist of a blank page. In spite of this difficulty, some poets do manage to make extremely close approaches to the state of meaninglessness while still using words.... In order to save us from the Western capitalist construction called a poem, the Language Poets had to destroy it. But two other possible reasons for writing Language Poetry come to mind: [1] The poet cannot succesfully create a coherent poem and so makes a virtue of his failure. [2] The poet cannot successfully create a coherent poem and so uses poem-as-pretext for expounding critical theories — something he or she can do, and that, happy coincidence, ensures an academic career.”

The Argument for Silence: Defining the Poet Peter Principle
“The tension between ‘career’ and ‘vocation’ in poetry is nowhere more obvious than in academia where poets take a sabbatical in order to write poetry, but never take a sabbatical from writing poetry. I believe that a certain variety of established poet, perhaps those with a substantial number of books, would benefit greatly from a poetry sabbatical. There is evidence of a need for poetic silence all around us. We see it every time we read a denatured poem by a renowned poet, usually in a renowned publication; evidence that the enabling editors of such publications have failed in their duty to enforce last call. For example, poets James Tate, Philip Levine and Mary Oliver have each produced more than 16 books of poetry. Whatever has driven this production, it is clear from the trajectory of all three poets that something must stop it. In all three cases, a windiness, a wordiness, a kind of poetic logorrhea can be found in their latest work in contrast to the fire and compression in their early work. Flatlined, barely pulsing, their latest work is being kept alive by extraordinary means: the artificial resuscitation of continuous publication.”

A two-part article on Economists & Ecologists by Arnold Kling @ Tech Central Station:

Common Sense and Sensibility
“Economists are not well thought of these days by environmentalists. Or so it seems from accounts such as a recent Scientific American excerpt of Edward O. Wilson’s book, The Future of Life. He characterizes economists as narrow, myopic environmental ignoramuses.... It’s true that economists have trouble with the views of many environmentalists. But this just reflects our frustration with the ecologists’ use of the most naive and inappropriate economic models and assumptions in their forecasts and policy prescriptions. That’s why Bjorn Lomborg’s new book The Skeptical Environmentalist is such a distinctive, rare, and important work. In addition to sharing the ecologist’s concerns about aquifers, sustainability, and global warming, Lomborg accepts the economist’s paradigm. By combining economics with ecology, he comes up with a rational, balanced analysis. Unfortunately, environmentalists’ denial of the validity of economic analysis runs through much of their criticism of Lomborg’s work.... Environmentalists tend to assume a constant relationship between inputs and outputs. If you are going to produce X tons of grain, then the acreage of land required will be X/y, where y is the average yield of an acre of land. Economists call this the ‘fixed-coefficients’ model, because the relationship between acreage and grain is governed by the coefficient y. Simply put, this is not a realistic model. In practice there are always a variety of production techniques that use different combinations of inputs to produce the same output. The fixed-coefficients model applies, if at all, only in the very short run. In the long run, there is substitution and technical change. Substitution means that producers will vary the inputs used in production, depending on changes in the cost of various inputs. For example, if land becomes more expensive, producers will substitute capital, labor, fertilizer, or other resources in order to utilize the most efficient combination. The other long-run factor is technical change. As we accumulate knowledge, we come up with ways to produce more output with fewer resources.”

Lomborg’s Lessons
“Economists use interest rates to discount future benefits and costs. Because of discounting, environmental costs that are out in the future are given less weight than today’s economic goods, including today’s environment. Ecologists suspect that economists are being short-sighted, when in fact we are being rational. The interest rate represents the price at which the economy can trade off future output for present output. What discounting says is that tomorrow’s output is ‘cheap’ in today’s terms. Undertaking a large expense today to avoid the same expense tomorrow is inefficient. Ecologists worry that we are consuming too much now, while depriving future generations of resources and leaving them with large unpaid environmental bills. Economists, on the other hand, argue that by investing in science and research we are providing a legacy of wealth to future generations. The assets that they inherit in the form of capital and know-how will be much greater than any environmental liabilities. In The Skeptical Environmentalist, Bjorn Lomborg makes a strong case against the Kyoto Protocol, which attempts to restrict carbon dioxide emissions in order to forestall global warming. Even as one who accepts the thesis of global warming, Lomborg suggests that the Kyoto Protocol is a bad idea. Lomborg estimates a finite (albeit large) cost to global warming. Also, because this cost will be borne in the future, he applies a discount rate. If the present value of the cost of global warming is finite, then it becomes possible to estimate the benefits of policies to forestall global warming. Next, it follows that we can compare benefits to costs. It is on the basis of these cost-benefit comparisons that Lomborg is able to show that the Kyoto Protocol approach is unwise.”

A two-part article @ Salon, by Andrew O’Hehir, on J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings:

The book of the century
“It’s unwise to read The Lord of the Rings as allegory in any strict sense, but this commonplace personal odyssey, one shared by millions in the modern age, is strikingly echoed in its plot. Frodo, the child-size hero, must leave his beloved Shire and travel into Sauron’s domain of Mordor, with its slag heaps, its permanent pall of smoke, its slave-driven industries. When he returns after much danger and difficulty, he discovers that the malicious wizard Saruman — as Shippey points out, a techno-Utopian who began with good intentions — has industrialized the Shire itself, cutting down its trees, replacing its hobbit-holes with brick slums and factories and poisoning its rivers. In this regard, then, The Lord of the Rings belongs to the literature of the Industrial Revolution, a lament for the destruction of England’s ‘green and pleasant land’ that belongs somewhere on the same shelf with Thomas Hardy, D.H. Lawrence and William Blake. But Tolkien saw something wilder and stranger in the Sarehole of his childhood, and in himself: a fading but still tangible connection to the distant, mythic past. If his Shire hobbits are the West Midlands rural bourgeoisie of 1895 or so, they have been catapulted backward into a world where they themselves are the anachronisms, a realm of elves, dwarves (Tolkien insisted on this nonstandard but ancient plural, although he would have preferred ‘dwarrows’), wizards, dragons, goblins and black sorcerers.”

A curiously very great book
“It is not merely the scale of mythic invention or the grand storytelling that distinguishes it but also its tragic vision, the profound melancholy mentioned by Lewis. Few if any heroic quests have ever had such a sense of human frailty and weakness; although Frodo brings the Ring all the way to the Cracks of Doom where Sauron forged it, in the end he is overcome by temptation and claims it for his own. He is redeemed only by chance, or by divine grace, which in Tolkien’s world comes to the same thing. He has shown mercy to the treacherous and miserable Gollum, who becomes the accidental agent of Frodo’s and the world’s salvation. But Frodo, the book’s ostensible hero, fails in his quest and is left, like the knight who guards the Holy Grail, with a grievous wound that can never heal (an Arthurian parallel Shippey has not noticed). Even the victory wrought by the Ring’s destruction is a sad affair, in many respects closer to defeat. Much of the magic and mystery drains out of Middle-earth after Sauron’s fall, leaving behind an ordinary, only slightly prehistoric realm dominated by human beings. Tolkien’s most beloved characters — Gandalf, the High-Elves Elrond and Galadriel and the hobbits Bilbo and Frodo, both of them indelibly marked by the Ring — depart over the western seas to a paradisiacal nowhere that none of us on this shore will ever see. Tolkien liked to present himself to friends and readers as a contented fireside hobbit, fond of tobacco, simple food and late mornings in bed, and there can be no doubt, reading his letters, that he was immensely gratified by the outpouring of love and enthusiasm his work engendered. (And immensely irritated by some of it; when a woman wanted to name her Siamese cats after his characters, he replied that they were “the fauna of Mordor.”) But in reality he was a strange and complicated man who wrote a strange and sad book, whose complex of meanings we will likely never determine.”

A three-part article on some current thinking on the Koran in The Atlantic:

What is the Koran? (Part 1)
“Some of the parchment pages in the Yemeni hoard seemed to date back to the seventh and eighth centuries A.D., or Islam’s first two centuries — they were fragments, in other words, of perhaps the oldest Korans in existence. What’s more, some of these fragments revealed small but intriguing aberrations from the standard Koranic text. Such aberrations, though not surprising to textual historians, are troublingly at odds with the orthodox Muslim belief that the Koran as it has reached us today is quite simply the perfect, timeless, and unchanging Word of God.”

What is the Koran? (Part 2)
“Deviating from the orthodox interpretation of the Koran, says the Algerian Mohammed Arkoun, a professor emeritus of Islamic thought at the University of Paris, is ‘a very sensitive business’ with major implications. ‘Millions and millions of people refer to the Koran daily to explain their actions and to justify their aspirations,’ Arkoun says. ‘This scale of reference is much larger than it has ever been before.’”

What is the Koran? (Part 3)
“Gerd-R. Puin speaks with disdain about the traditional willingness, on the part of Muslim and Western scholars, to accept the conventional understanding of the Koran. ‘The Koran claims for itself that it is “mubeen,” or “clear,” he says. ‘But if you look at it, you will notice that every fifth sentence or so simply doesn’t make sense. Many Muslims — and Orientalists — will tell you otherwise, of course, but the fact is that a fifth of the Koranic text is just incomprehensible. This is what has caused the traditional anxiety regarding translation. If the Koran is not comprehensible — if it can’t even be understood in Arabic — then it’s not translatable. People fear that. And since the Koran claims repeatedly to be clear but obviously is not — as even speakers of Arabic will tell you — there is a contradiction. Something else must be going on.’”

Occasionally, some links are moved from this section into the Featured Webseries Trove.

top


 Volume 1.15 This View’s Featured Pages & Sites May 20, 2002 





The View from the Core, and all original material, © E. L. Core 2002. All rights reserved.

Cor ad cor loquitur J. H. Newman — “Heart speaks to heart”