all right

Occasionally adding corroborative details to add verisimilitude to otherwise bald and unconvincing,
but veridicous accounts
with careful attention, indefatigable assiduity, and nice discrimination.

22 February, 2012

A Miscellany

Take the Global Warming Test.

It must be wearying to take so many vacations, so it’s no wonder that Michelle Obama needs a holiday.  See “Well it has been a whole month! Just weeks after 17-day Hawaii vacation Michelle hits the slopes with daughters on Aspen ski trip”, by Hannah Roberts of The Daily Mail.

Benjamin Sarlin, at The Daily Beast, explains the mechanics of presidential speech-writing in “Write-Your-Own Obama Speech”.  See also a comment from jd, at PJ Media.

See “The Not-So-Vast Conspiracy” at Junk Science.

See “First Global Warming – Now Global Sweetening!”, by Jim Yardley, at American Thinker:
From the same sort of academic busybodies who gave us the ever-popular global warming panic comes a new prediction of catastrophe.  [...]
Apparently, three researchers from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) have decided that sugar must be regulated in the same way in which tobacco and alcohol are regulated.  The three scientists [...] argue that it’s a misnomer to consider sugar just “empty calories”:  “There is nothing empty about these calories.  A growing body of scientific evidence is showing that fructose can trigger processes that lead to liver toxicity and a host of other chronic diseases.  A little is not a problem, but a lot kills”slowly.”  [...]
In the article, [co-author] Dr. Schmidt claimed that she and her cohorts were being very sensitive to individual freedom of choice.
We’re not talking prohibition.  We’re not advocating a major imposition of the government into people’s lives.  We’re talking about gentle ways to make sugar consumption slightly less convenient, thereby moving people away from the concentrated dose.  What we want is to actually increase people’s choices by making foods that aren’t loaded with sugar comparatively easier and cheaper to get.
Isn’t that reassuring?  They advocate only a minor imposition of government into people’s lives.  Perhaps that’s somewhat akin to being just a little bit pregnant.  And isn’t it wonderful that they want to make “foods that aren’t loaded with sugar comparatively easier and cheaper to get”?  It’s embarrassing to never have realized that sugar and candy companies were the reason why a stalk of celery is so hard to find ... and costs as much as a new Volkswagen.  No, come to think of it, most sugar-free foods are a lot cheaper than those with sugar, right?  Unless they used to have sugar, and now manufacturers charge more after they label the same food “sugar-free.”
At New English Review, Emmet Scott asks “Who Destroyed Classical Civilisation?”
For centuries scholars assumed that the civilization of ancient Rome, the civilization we now call “classical,” was destroyed by the barbarian tribes of Germany and central Asia who, during the fourth and fifth centuries swarmed into the Empire and destroyed the political power of the Eternal City.  The migrations of the Goths, Vandals, and Huns, were held responsible for reducing Europe to an economic and cultural wasteland, and initiating the long period of backwardness we now call the “Dark Ages.”
This was the view that prevailed till the sixteenth century, at which point, in the wake of the Reformation, a new suspect was added: the Christian, or more accurately, the Catholic, Church.  According to this idea (one that remains strikingly popular in the English-speaking world), Christianity was corrupted beyond recognition after the time of Constantine and from the fourth century onwards a power-hungry Church hierarchy, in cahoots with the Imperial authorities, kept the population of Europe in subservience and ignorance, effectively completing the destructive work of the Barbarians.  [...]
[Belgian historian Henri] Pirenne began to look at the wider European picture; and [...] arrived at a radical conclusion: classical civilization had not been destroyed by the Goths, Vandals, or Huns, or indeed by the Christian Church.  It was destroyed by a people who it had, even then, become fashionable to credit with saving Western Civilization: the Arabs.  The evidence, as Pirenne was at pains to show in his posthumously published Mohammed et Charlemagne (1938) seemed incontrovertible.  From the mid-seventh century trade between the ancient centers of high culture in the Levant and the West seemed to have come to an abrupt halt.  Luxury items originating in the eastern Mediterranean, which are mentioned routinely in the literature until the end of the sixth century, disappear completely by the mid-seventh century, at the latest. 
[...]  Worst of all, perhaps, from the perspective of culture and learning, the importation of papyrus from Egypt seemed to have entirely ceased.  Pirenne stressed that fact that this material, which had been shipped into Western Europe in vast quantities since the time of the Roman Republic, was absolutely essential for a thousand purposes in a literate and mercantile civilization; and the ending of the supply would have had an immediate and catastrophic effect on levels of literacy.  [...]
Thus for Pirenne the detachment of the West from the East, politically, culturally and religiously, was a direct consequence of the arrival on the world stage of Islam.  “Without Mohammed,” said Pirenne, “Charlemagne is inconceivable.”
Melanie Phillips reveals, in “When a seven-year-old is branded a bigot”, that the mother of a young boy was told “to sign a form admitting he was racist”:
So what was the heinous act this child had committed to cause him to be branded in this way? Why, merely to have asked a five-year-old boy in the playground whether he was ‘brown because he was from Africa’.
What on earth is racist about that question? It does not express a hateful dislike of, or racial superiority over, another person on account of the colour of their skin. It merely wonders, in a child-like way, about the reason for that colour.
It is thus a perfectly inoffensive question from a curious child. The reason for the five-year-old’s brown skin is, indeed, that his ancestry lies in another continent. [...]
When George Orwell created his fictional ‘thought police’ and ‘Ministry of Truth’, he was attacking Stalinism and its attempt to re-configure human psychology itself.
Incredible as it may seem, that’s what we have in Britain with ‘political correctness’, which should more properly be called cultural Stalinism — a regime of oppression and intimidation in which even innocent children are being branded as bigots.
Webb and Mitchell shew Jesus relating the parable of “the Good Samaritan”:

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