Sunday, March 30, 2008

Anglo-Saxon attitudes

Kudos to the Economist for actually publishing the raw data of their "Anglo-Saxon attitudes:
a survey of British and American views of the world"
survey on the Internet, rather than just cherry-picking random stats and hanging a story from them, as the rest of the British media does. You can read it here, and the article based on it here.

I'm going to blog about it this week, particularly regarding the questions on "crime and punishment" and "religion". I'm a bit puzzled by a couple of sentences in the article, that don't seem to be borne out by the data.

Newspapers and magazines definitely should do this more often.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Evidence based medicine?

From the BBC:
"Women should not drink any alcohol during pregnancy, NHS adviser the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has said.

It says if they must drink, they should not do so in the first three months and should limit consumption to one or two units once or twice a week afterwards.

It brings NICE in line with government advice and replaces previous guidance saying small daily amounts were fine.However, NICE concedes there is no evidence to support the change." [emphasis mine]

Have NICE employed "Doctor" Nick Fox of Capital Radio:
"Paedophiles have more genes in common with crabs than they do with you and me. It's a scientific fact - there no actual evidence for it - but it is a scientific fact"

Sunday, March 23, 2008

He is not here, he is Risen

"And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, he is Risen" Luke 24:5-6

He is Risen indeed. Alleluia.

Whether you are Christian or not, I hope you have a very happy easter.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

A couple of bits of pedantry

  1. "Frankenstein" is a reference to the Creator, Victor Frankenstein, not to the poor Creature, who - significantly - is unnamed. The Creature is the only really sympathetic character in the book, as Satan is the only really sympathetic character in Paradise Lost. This comparison become explicit is as the Creature[1] identifies with Satan after reading Milton's epic poem.
  2. "Fundamentalism" is term properly used to describe the sect of Protestants who, under Lyman and Milton Stewart, published the widely unread 12 volume work "The Fundamentals" during the second decade of the 20th century. The major concern of the Fundamentalists (note capitalization) was to preserve biblical inerrancy from the assaults of the higher criticism of the great 19th century German theologians. To call me a Fundamentalist is both Silly and Erroneous, but not prima facie Absurd. To speak of "Catholic Fundamentalists" is equivalent to speaking of a "square circle" and is prima facie Absurd.
Is this important, or am I on a pedantry crusade [2]? I would argue it is not merely important, but essential in order to marginalize Fundamentalism. You can't marginalize something if you don't know what it is, and someone who knows what she's talking about won't take you seriously. You'll alienate potential supporters: I'm not sure you can afford to do that.

[1] who taught himself to read, if I remember correctly, from Milton's Paradise Lost, the complete works of Petrarch, and Goethe's "The Sorrows of Young Werther"(!), which he found in an abandoned chest. "Frankenstein" is a fine book, but it cannot be accused of an over-reliance on Naturalism.

[2] To be fair, I am always on a pedantry crusade. But it's important, too.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Is placenta kosher?

Fascinating piece here from a midwife, who is trying to establish if placenta is kosher, and if its consumption is halachic [legal under Jewish law].

Christians aren't bound by the food laws [Acts 10:9-15], so this is something I know very little about. Well worth reading in it's entirety.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Another one bites the dust

To delirious cries of "yay!" and "yippety-skip!", I have polished off another chapter.
Now, if I can finish another before Good Friday (it's almost there!), I shall be a happy man. Edging closer to submission.