Monday, March 15, 2010

Cool stuff I read this morning

"Hey, I'm no scientist. I'm not an engineer either, but if I asked 100 engineers whether it was safe to cross a bridge, and 99 said no, I'd probably try to find another way over the ravine rather than loudly siding with the underdog and arguing about what constitutes a consensus while trundling across in my Hummer."

-- Charlie Brooker, on climate change, in The Guardian

"What happens is that some Protestants cherry-pick edicts out of the Bible that support their prejudices and then, in a neat bit of mental judo, spread their arms wide and claim their religion is under attack if anyone contradicts them. "What about tolerance for ME?" they cry. It's as if I seized a copy of the Bible and began beating someone over the head with it and, when you try to stop me, I accuse you of failing to respect my faith."

-- Neil Steinberg, on religious bigotry against gays, in the Chicago Sun-Times

"In requesting people to anchor a plan in the distant future of a month hence, you are demanding a kind of navigation that Americans increasingly do not practice. We prefer to remain flexy, solidifying our plans incrementally as the date approaches. Let’s talk tomorrow. I’ll call you when I’m on the road. Cellphones in hand, we microadjust our schedules as they unfold around us. We’re like the air traffic controllers of our own lives."

-- Rand Richards Cooper, on why Americans no longer RSVP, in the New York Times

" . . . The vast majority of Walmarts carry a large range of affordable fresh fruits and vegetables. And Walmarts serve many “food deserts,” in large cities and rural areas—ironically including farm areas. I’m not sure I’m convinced that the world’s largest retailer is set on rebuilding local economies it had a hand in destroying, if not literally, then in effect. But I’m convinced that if it wants to, a ruthlessly well-run mechanism can bring fruits and vegetables back to land where they once flourished, and deliver them to the people who need them most."

-- Corby Kummer, on Walmart saving the small American farm, in The Atlantic

"So it seems to me at least possible that easy access to public self-expression tends to make people more bad-tempered and ill-mannered than they would otherwise have been. It releases people from inhibitions, and allows them to breach psychological barriers. Even wit suffers, for it is far easier to insult than to think of a really damaging, but amusing, witticism. To write to Professor Dawkins that one feels ‘a sudden urge to ram a fistful of nails down your throat’ is easier than to explain succinctly why he is wrong, if he is wrong.

"Moreover, the fact that one can vituperate using a virtual rather than a real address promotes such verbal intemperance."

-- Theodore Dalrymple, on refusing to publish nasty comments from Internet readers, in New English Review

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