Further religious news….

by Chris Bertram on March 16, 2005

Julian Baggini, writing in the Guardian, “reports”:http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,3604,1438440,00.html :

bq. In the newly revised, more accessible edition of the New International Version of the Bible, “stoned” has been changed to “stoned to death” for fear that modern readers may get the impression that the reward for adultery is a big spliff.

Fallujah: my apology

by Daniel on March 16, 2005

Juan Cole reports the bad news about the town of Fallujah. Forty per cent of the buildings were destroyed in the bombardment and the remaining buildings have either “major” or “significant” damage. The city has effectively no water or power. It is currently a tent city, composed of about 9,000 residents living in tents near the ruins of their homes. The other 290,000 residents are living with relatives in other cities, or in refugee camps, or dead. Presumably the refugees will be experiencing a mortality rate rather more than 1.5x its prewar level.

I suspect that the Fallujah residents might consider it an addition of insult to injury that the main importance of their town in Western political debate is as a trophy for statisticians like me to show how intellectually scrupulous we are and win arguments with morons, by discarding their suffering as an “outlier”. With real tears in my eyes, I apologise.

Worst pundit ever

by Ted on March 16, 2005

When I came onboard at Crooked Timber, it wasn’t without some trepidation among my august co-bloggers. As respected academics, they didn’t want CT to devolve into a cesspool of personal invective. Accordingly, my invitation asked me to refrain from using terms such as “douchebag” and “world’s biggest douchebag”.

Obviously, there was an exception in a sub-clause for Ramblin’ Christopher Hitchens. The Poor Man explains.


by Ted on March 16, 2005

Rep. Edward Markey has offered a bill (note: .pdf file) to stop extraordinary rendition. Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings makes the basic case quite ably:

Extraordinary rendition is a loathsome practice. If we have grounds to think that someone is a terrorist, we ought to charge that person and try him or her in a court of law. If we do not have enough evidence to bring charges, our response should be to try to develop some, not to ship that person off to another country to be tortured. This is completely inconsistent with our respect for the rule of law, and with our claim to basic decency. It is unworthy of our country, and it should be banned.

Representative Markey’s bill has 52 co-sponsors. 51 are Democrats, and 1 is independent.

I’m not an idiot. I know that this bill will never pass in this Congress. But I’d like to see at least one Republican co-sponsor for this bill.

I’m going to ask that readers politely contact Connecticut moderate Republican Christopher Shays, who might be open to persuasion. His phone number in DC is 202-225-5541. In Bridgeport, CT, it’s 203-579-5870. He can be emailed from this page. My letter, which you can adapt or just use, is under the fold. Thank you in advance.
[click to continue…]

Inflicted Christianity

by Chris Bertram on March 16, 2005

Gwydion the Magician (whom I’m guessing from his title must be some kind of pagan) has “issues” with Alaskan Airlines (and quite right too):

bq. Alaskan Airlines, I discovered, does not deign to serve its transcontinental passengers anything resembling a full meal. All we got on a 6 hour flight was a crappy sandwich. The IFE comes as a small portable DVD player that costs 10 bucks. But the particular feature of the Airline that pissed me off was the little Christian verse they include on each meal tray. I know this is America, where God-fearing zealots control the government. But inflicting Christianity on a captive audience of fee-paying passengers is just too much.