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The Weblog at The View from the Core - Sat. 11/05/05 08:04:10 AM
A handful of interesting, informative, and insightful articles.
News, editorials, columns, essays, et al.
Starry Fight: Oh heavens! A brilliant Cuban exile takes top billing in the intelligent design debate by Mariah Blake @ Miami New Times (ht):
Guillermo Gonzalez was a science whiz, the kind of kid classmates eye with awe or scorn as they fumble with their beakers in chemistry class.
While a senior at Hialeah-Miami Lakes High, he interned at Cordis Laboratories, where he helped build a device that measures temperature in pacemakers. And he made it to the finals of Westinghouse, the mother of all student science competitions, with a contraption that measured how ice and water conduct electricity.
But his true passion was for the stars.
While other boys played baseball and chased girls, he was reading astronomy books and viewing distant planets from the back yard of his Hialeah home. And it wasn't just comets Gonzalez glimpsed through the lens of his 200-pound telescope. "It was as if, by discovering the universe, I was discovering something about God," he recalls.
Gonzalez's whiz-kid days are now behind him; he is 41 years old and teaches astronomy at Iowa State University. But his life has continued to follow the twin tracks of faith and science. A year ago, those tracks collided in a book called The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery. In it he argues that a supreme being designed our planet to support both human life and scientific inquiry.
While it has received scant attention in his hometown, the book and a documentary based on it has made national headlines and earned Gonzalez one of thirteen senior research fellow spots at the Discovery Institute, the brain center of the intelligent design movement, which argues that Darwin got it wrong. Life is too complex to be an evolutionary fluke....
A Year of Living Dangerously: Remember Theo van Gogh, and shudder for the future. by Francis Fukuyama @ OpinionJournal (ht):
One year ago today [Wed. Nov. 2], the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh had his throat ritually slit by Mohamed Bouyeri, a Muslim born in Holland who spoke fluent Dutch. This event has totally transformed Dutch politics, leading to stepped-up police controls that have now virtually shut off new immigration there. Together with the July 7 bombings in London (also perpetrated by second generation Muslims who were British citizens), this event should also change dramatically our view of the nature of the threat from radical Islamism.
We have tended to see jihadist terrorism as something produced in dysfunctional parts of the world, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan or the Middle East, and exported to Western countries. Protecting ourselves is a matter either of walling ourselves off, or, for the Bush administration, going "over there" and trying to fix the problem at its source by promoting democracy.
There is good reason for thinking, however, that a critical source of contemporary radical Islamism lies not in the Middle East, but in Western Europe. In addition to Bouyeri and the London bombers, the March 11 Madrid bombers and ringleaders of the September 11 attacks such as Mohamed Atta were radicalized in Europe. In the Netherlands, where upwards of 6% of the population is Muslim, there is plenty of radicalism despite the fact that Holland is both modern and democratic. And there exists no option for walling the Netherlands off from this problem....
"A woman who taught at Berkeley dropped in on me once and saw a book burning in the fireplace," recalled Pauline Kael, in her skeptical film review of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. "She pointed at it in terror. I explained that it was a crummy ghost-written life of a movie star and that it was an act of sanitation to burn it rather then sending it out into the world which was already clogged with too many copies of it. But she said, 'You shouldn't burn books' and began to cry."
Some four decades later, and hysteria has risen again about books as holy objects. This time, however, the Berkeley brigade is concerned that, even if a Muslim detainee's Koran wasn't, after all, flushed down the toilet by American military prison guards (as Newsweek notoriously and erroneously reported), on occasion the Koran was, for instance, knocked from a pouch onto a bed, accidentally splashed with urine, placed by an interrogator on a TV then removed from the TV after the detainee complained. That sort of thing....
The Suicide Bombers Among Us: The 7/7 solution to an insoluble conflict by Theodore Dalrymple @ City Journal (ht):
All terrorists, presumably, know the dangers that they run, accepting them as an occupational hazard; given Man's psychological makeup or at least the psychological makeup of certain young men these dangers may act as an attraction, not a deterrent. But only a few terrorists use their own deaths as an integral means of terrorizing others. They seem to be a breed apart, with whom the rest of humanity can have little or nothing in common.
Certainly they sow panic more effectively than other terrorists. Those who leave bombs in public places and then depart, despicable as they are, presumably still have attachments to their own lives, and therefore may be open to dissuasion or negotiation. By contrast, no threat (at first sight) might deter someone who is prepared to extinguish himself to advance his cause, and who considers such self-annihilation while killing as many strangers as possible a duty, an honor, and a merit that will win ample rewards in the hereafter. And Britain has suddenly been forced to acknowledge that it has an unknown number of such people in its midst, some of them home-grown.
The mere contemplation of a suicide bomber's state of mind is deeply unsettling, even without considering its practical consequences. I have met a would-be suicide bomber who had not yet had the chance to put his thanatological daydream into practice. What could possibly have produced as embittered a mentality as his what experience of life, what thoughts, what doctrines? What fathomless depths of self-pity led him to the conclusion that only by killing himself and others could he give a noble and transcendent meaning to his existence?...
McMartin Pre-Schooler: "I Lied": A long-delayed apology from one of the accusers in the notorious McMartin Pre-School molestation case by Kyle Zirpolo, as told to Debbie Nathan @ The Los Angeles Times (ht):
My mother divorced my father when I was 2 and she met my stepfather, who was a police officer in Manhattan Beach. They had five children after me. In addition, my stepfather has three older children. In the combined family, I'm the only one of the nine children he didn't father. I always remember wanting him to love me. I was always trying excessively hard to please him. I would do anything for him.
My stepbrothers and stepsisters and a half-brother and half-sister went to McMartin. So did I. I only remember being happy there. I never had any bad feelings about the school no bad auras or vibes or anything. Even to this day, talking about it or seeing pictures or artwork that I did at McMartin never brings any bad feelings. All my memories are positive.
The thing I remember about the case was how it took over the whole city and consumed our whole family. My parents would ask questions: "Did the teachers ever do things to you?" They talked about Ray Buckey, whom I had never met. I don't even have any recollection of him attending the school when I was going there....
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