I knew this would happen:
It’s been nearly four days since the terrible shooting spree in Tucson targeting and critically wounding U.S. representative Gabrielle Giffords, and killing six others—which means it must be time for the simplistic debate about the dangers of over-heated rhetoric and metaphor to make room for the predictably simplistic debate over gun control regulation....
So, if Tucson proves anything about gun control laws it’s that we can’t even rely on them to work properly. But that’s an argument for better enforcement of existing laws, not one for coming up with ridiculous, new ones. Unfortunately, there will always be those who believe just one more law will make all the difference in preventing another madman’s rampage—no matter how inane that law may be.
Japan's foreign minister on Thursday called for renewed dialogue on the divided Korean peninsula, but said the North should first take "concrete actions" to lower tensions.
"The nuclear and missile development issue of DPRK (North Korea) is a cause for major concern," Seiji Maehara said in a speech to a Washington think tank before meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
"What is most important is that a North Korea-South Korea dialogue be opened up," Maehara said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
But, North Korea "needs to first take concrete actions," he said, without providing further details.
Speaking through a translator during a question-and-answer session, Maehara said North Korea "these days is escalating the level of its provocation against the region and the international community."
He referred to the sinking of a South Korean warship last May, as well as the North's deadly shelling of a South Korean border island in November that sparked some of the worst saber-rattling since the 1950-1953 war.
He also cited a long-running dispute with Pyongyang over Japanese citizens abducted by North Korean spies in the 1970s and 80s. The kidnap victims were forced to train Pyongyang's secret agents in Japanese language and culture.
His remarks came after China, which has refused to rebuke its communist ally over the recent attack on the South, backed the North's call for "unconditional" talks with Seoul.
Hat tip: OFK.
Christians need an Islamic state like sharks need Quint:
So is the problem a growing ‘Islamisation’ of society as those with a wider political agenda to secularise Muslims and change Islam are claiming? In answer to this we need to examine the sharia laws relating to Christian and other non-Muslim citizens living in an Islamic State and look at some historical examples of when these sharia laws were applied on Christians. Non-Muslims citizens living in a Khilafah have an honourable status and are referred to as dhimmi (people of contract & protection). Their places of worship, lives and property are protected and they are not persecuted for their beliefs.
What a lying sack of sassafras.
Related: Pakistan MP accuses the Pope of "insulting Muslims" (what else is new?)
PAKISTANI politicians have accused the Pope of interfering in state matters after he called for controversial blasphemy laws to be scrapped.
Benedict XVI urged the Islamic nation to repeal the legislation — which carries the death penalty for insulting Islam — a week after the shooting of the governor of Punjab, who had criticised the laws.
“I once more encourage the leaders of that country to take the necessary steps to abrogate that law,” the Pope said.
“The tragic murder of the governor of Punjab shows the urgent need to make progress in this direction.”
He added that the legislation had been used as a pretext for violence against non-Muslims.
Islamic party leaders condemned the Pope’s comments.
“Pakistan is an Islamic ideological state and the Pope cannot tell us to change our laws, which are in conformity to our belief,” said Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, a senior leader of Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam, one of the country’s largest Islamic groups supporting the blasphemy laws.
Farid Paracha, the leader of Jamaat-i-Islami, the most powerful Islamic party in the nation, said: “The Pope’s statement is an insult to Muslims across the world.”
Is this one of those cases where one does not anger the perpetually angry or else? Of course it is.
In other news...
The Irish aren't impressed with our healthcare system. Don't worry. Neither are we.
This was originally from the Huffington Post so don't be surprised by its total fluffiness.
A moose can kill you so sue someone.
The Pope is just right about stuff:
Children begin to acquire the character of a son or daughter of the Church "starting from a Christian name," said Pope Benedict XVI -- who was christened Joseph -- as he baptised 21 infants in the Sistine Chapel on Sunday, marking the feast of Christ's baptism.
Traditional names are "an unequivocal sign that the Holy Spirit gives a rebirth to people in the womb of the Church."
That prompted Italian media to warn parents of the perils of not naming newborns from the Bible, despite the fact that most Italians still tend to name their children after saints.
It's a different story in Canada, the United States and Australia, where parents are more likely to give their children unique names compared with their European counterparts in Denmark, Austria and the U.K., a new study in the journal Psychological Science found.
Researchers theorized that frontier countries such as Canada were founded on a need for independence from the old world and, while the frontier spirit may have faded from contemporary Canadian culture, our penchant for unusual names has only grown stronger as the Canadian identity has matured. Provinces that were settled more recently, such as Alberta and B.C., were more likely to give their children uncommon names compared with Eastern provinces, which were settled earlier.
"You're not going West on a wagon anymore, but those values of individualism and independence are still reflected in the culture," says study coauthor Michael Varnum. "The message is that frontier settlement still has contemporary consequences."
The phenomenon has exploded since the 1990s, researchers from San Diego State University found in a 2010 analysis of names of 325 million babies born between 1880 and 2007. Parents started straying from more common names in the 1950s, but the shift toward unique names really began in 1983 and has picked up speed only in the past 20 years.
"It's a question of a culture's most important consideration: giving a child a common name so they can fit in, or giving them a unique name so they can stand out," said study author Jean Twenge.
Edmonton's Dana Coombe, a new mother with long ancestral roots in Canada, says the name she'd long wanted for her child --Aiden--was quickly shelved when it became too popular.
"We really didn't want our son to be in a situation where there were eight other kids with his name in the class and you had to use last initials," said Ms. Coombe, who alongside husband Jesse ultimately chose the name Ryker -- which, according to BabyNameWizard.com,was only given to roughly 200 of every million babies born in 2009, compared with nearly 4,000 Aidens. "We really liked the fact that Ryker sounded manly and wasn't common. And no, we did not get it from Star Trek."
Historically, then, modern atheism and theism have a kind of co-dependent relationship. Theism gives rise to atheism, atheism takes its vocabulary and thought forms from theism.
I’m wondering if that’s why I find that many atheists sound so much like the religious types they despise. I’m not talking about everyone who doubts or denies the existence of God. I mean the noisy, public atheists from the celebrity authors to the army of busy little bloggers who spread the gospel of freedom from religion with missionary zeal. And I don’t mean all religious people, but those who conform to the stereotype these atheists have of religion – that it is irrational, dogmatic and closed minded. The more I hear from the atheists, the more they seem to me like the mirror image of their adversaries.
Like their religious counterparts, these atheists see a world divided between the forces of light and the forces of darkness. Whereas for the religious, the division is between the saved and the unsaved, for the atheists, it’s between the enlightened and the superstitious. In any case, theirs is a flat, dualistic world of simplistic oppositions, lacking in nuance, historical context, texture or levels of meaning.
Like their religious opponents, this kind of atheist is not only ignorant of the other side, but wilfully so. On the religious side, this ignorance takes the form of “God said it, I believe it, that settles it;” on the atheist side, “Religion is stupid. What’s to know?” Their knowledge of the other is not a deep appreciative knowledge, but the “knowledge” of the polemicist who is only concerned with what is useful for belittling and attacking. Consequently, like their religious adversaries, they oversimplify vast and complex phenomena – by, for example, putting all religious convictions on the same level as belief in leprechauns.
Like their religious alter egos, this kind of atheist uses incendiary rhetoric to make his points. (Is it my imagination, or are most of them guys?) Except that if someone says that homosexuality is an abomination in the sight of God, he can be accused of hate speech; while, when Dawkins muses that parents should be charged with child abuse for teaching religion to their children, he is feted by the CBC.
Like their religious adversaries, this kind of atheist deals in static abstractions. They have no appreciation for the deeply and mysteriously biographical nature of belief. Anyone who has faith knows that it is more than assent intellectual assent to a set of propositions. It is a framework of meaning and a way of life that goes to the deepest core of one’s being.
Park Chan-Wook does something cool:
Director Park Chan-Wook, who won the Jury prize at Cannes in 2009 for Thirst, revealed yesterday at a screening of his latest film, Paranmanjang, that the 30-minute short was shot entirely on Apple’s iPhone 4, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“From hunting for a film location, shooting auditions, to doing a documentary on the filming process, everything was shot with the iPhone 4,” Park told the Wall Street Journal after the screening. “We went through all the same filmmaking processes except that the camera was small.”
If I had a pantheon of superheroes, he would be one of them. I would dub him "Director-Man". He wouldn't have to wear a cape, though. He could just wear dark glasses and give profound quips about film-making.