Daniel Dennett on brights

I’m happy to admit to being a bright. As Daniel Dennett says in an NYT op-ed: “A bright is a person with a naturalist as opposed to a supernaturalist world view…. We are, in fact, the moral backbone of the nation: brights take their civic duties seriously precisely because they don’t trust God to save humanity from its follies.”

Miscellaneous

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Why we fought the Iraq war

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said to a Senate committee yesterday: “The coalition did not act in Iraq because we had discovered dramatic new evidence of Iraq’s pursuit of weapons of mass murder. We acted because we saw the existing evidence in a new light, through the prism of our experience on September 11.”

As the WSJ’s Best of the Web explains:

Rumsfeld is exactly right, and the Democrats will self-destruct unless they grasp the political ramifications of the national epiphany that was Sept. 11. The response that “Iraq had nothing to do with Sept. 11,” though possibly accurate, is beside the point–the equivalent of arguing in 1942 that Germany had nothing to do with Pearl Harbor. FDR and Truman knew who America’s enemies were, but many of their heirs seem not to.

I’m still deeply troubled by the intelligence failures showing WMD in Iraq, but I do not believe the war will be a successful political issue for the Democrats, and I think we should all agree on the paramount importance of not losing the peace in Iraq.

War & Its Impact

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A classic NYT sentence

Online Dating Sheds Its Stigma as Losers.com: “It’s amazing how all women say they’re slender when a lot of them are overweight,” said one 79-year-old Manhattan man who lists himself as 69 on his Match.com profile.

Technology and Science

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Your geese are cooked

The WSJ has this great section on geese:

What could possibly cause a majestic V-formation of honkers high overhead on a thousand-mile migration to the Arctic tundra to suddenly drop down and land on a golf course in, say, Greenwich, Conn., defy their instincts, and take up the posh suburban life?

The answer is startling to many Americans: These geese didn’t stop migrating. They never migrated. These geese, say wildlife historians, have virtually nothing to do with wild, migrating flocks. “Resident” geese — the ones most likely to be seen in suburban parks, ponds and soccer fields — are descendants of farmed geese and flocks of “live decoys” once used by professional hunters.

The Fish & Wildlife Service calls them “hybrids … originating in captivity and artificially introduced” around the country. In other words, in most places these geese are a non-native species thriving, like feral cats and kudzu, in an artificial habitat: the welfare-wildlife world of sprawl.

Technology and Science

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Hamas’s long view

Here’s the scariest long-term thing you’re likely to read about Hamas:

“When I interviewed over 100 Hamas activists and all leadership, I was quite astonished because everyone told me that an Islamic state would begin about the years 2022 or 2023,” he said. “I asked them, `What are the conditions?’ They said: `Life after Yasir Arafat. Islamic revolution in Jordan and Egypt. Time and demography are on our side.’ “

War & Its Impact

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Bugs

A quite well-reviewed novel called “The Bug” about “the postmodern Prometheus”:

Ethan’s sections of the novel are preceded, Hollywood-style, by the number of days that UI-1017 has been ”open” — it lives for 372 days in all — and his condition deteriorates as the Jester carries him further into the mystery of its birth, the ”deep down strangeness that made this machine seem to be operating in its own terms, alive.” As Ethan’s obsession with the bug grows and the company begins to crumble around his workstation, Berta is compelled by circumstances (and innate curiosity) to become his protector and shadow….

Movies, Books, etc.

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What’s right about NYC

Mermaid behind a bar

Cities

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Ending Al Queda

Cheney, speaking after the Saudi bombings, on how to deal with Al Queda:

Vice President Dick Cheney said the United States must continue to aggressively pursue terrorists. “The only way to deal with this threat ultimately is to destroy it,” he said in a speech…. There’s no treaty can solve this problem. There’s no peace agreement, no policy of containment or deterrence that works to deal with this threat. We have to go find the terrorists.”

War & Its Impact

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Matrix

The maturity warning from the NYT review: “Matrix” Reloaded” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian) for strong language and languorous, extended bouts of the slow-motion, meticulously staged violence that has fans trembling with excitement.

Movies, Books, etc.

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DVD Luddites

NYT Magazine argues against DVD extra features.

What’s most damaging to ”E.T.” is the way Spielberg has tampered with the movements and facial expressions of the eponymous alien itself. A team of computer wizards has labored mightily to make E.T. cuter — an undertaking that, as even those of us who admire the picture would have to agree, has a distinct coals-to-Newcastle quality.

I wonder his feeling on Pixonics’s backward-compatible high definition DVDs: pHD.

Movies, Books, etc.

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