February 6th, 2005


Sunday Lectures on CSPAN

I like to listen to the university lectures aired on CSPAN on Sundays. Today's have been by Charles Murray, author of What It Means to Be a Libertarian, and Jared Diamond, author of Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.

I didn't get to hear much of Murray's lecture, though the little bit I did hear, some of the Q/A session, impressed me. He believes, for example, that University of Colorado Professor Ward Churchill should not be fired for essentially stating that the victims of the World Trade Center collapse deserved to die. Murray believes that, instead, parents who object to Churchill's views should simply speak with their checkbooks--by sending their children to study elsewhere.

Jared Diamond is a professor of geology at the University of California at Los Angeles and works with the World Wildlife Fund. He seems to be something of an ecological historian, and Mark, who is a raving conservative, has actually read and likes Guns, Germs, and Steel, one of Diamond's previous books. I was rather pleased to discover that. Diamond talked about the role that ecological conservationism plays in whether societies collapse or survive, giving examples ranging from Easter Island to a comparison between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. I plan on buying his book. It is apparently #3 on the New York Times nonfiction bestsller list.

Last night, on After Words, which is the show that replaced Booknotes, author Melissa Boyle Mahle was interviewed. She wrote a book, Denial and Deception, about the inner workings of the Operations Directorate of the CIA, where she worked as a field agent for quite some time.

When I'm actually going to read these books is anybody's guess.

Latest Cold Treatment: On the advice of my friend Donna, I bouht an herbal tea called Throat Coat, which is supposed to be soothing because it contains slippery elm. I bought it and also a box of Gypsy Cold Care tea because the name amused me.

Regarding Gay Marriage

There's a very interesting and well thought-out post in miseri's journal about gay marriage.

One of my brothers-in-law is gay and participated in what I consider to have been a marriage ceremoyny with his husband/partner. It was a religious ceremony--some variety of Lutheranism, I believe.

My feeling on the matter is that marriage is love--or at least, it should be. This is why I think all of these so-called defense of marriage proposals are ridiculous. Legislation like that does not, in my opinion, defend marriage; it defends the legal supremacy of heterosexuality, period.

So what are we saying--that heterosexuals have more of a right for their love to be recognized than homosexuals? To me, that's utter nonsense.

I agree that no religious faith should re required to recognize gay marriage if it doesn't want to; churches/religions are private entities. But I do think that the state should. Frankly, why should the state care what sex the couples it marries are? They're still going to pay taxes and hold down jobs. You can do that whether you're gay or not.

The Superbowl - In Heaven

In Heaven, John Adams is saying to Benjamin Franklin, "Pay up."

Go, Patriots!

Snagged from thomsolo's journal:

You are fresh-ground coffee, black, first thing in the morning.
You are fresh-ground coffee, black, first thing
in the morning.

You are a life-giving substance. The US government
has secret stockpiles of you hidden in caverns
under the Rockies. When for some reason you
are late to a meeting, world financial markets
are thrown into chaos. Your presence can cure
warts and mild depression, and when you enter a
room, you diffuse a gentle fragrance that
reminds people of the happiest moment of their
childhoods. Cats and children adore you; they
curl up at your feet, where they torment small
crawling things and occasionally lick your

What kind of coffee are you?
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Seen in lrodell's journal:

You're a Ravenpuff!: You are a very analytical and
ingenius person, someone that likes to invent
new things. The way you look at life is with
wonder, and sometimes you're even a little
naive. But people love you for that trait and
they feel the need to protect you from the
harsh facts of life so that you can retain your
innocence. You are very capable person and when
there is trouble people turn to you because
you're able to stay calm and collected. You
like balance in your life and you try not to
make many waves. Even still, if there is
something that you believe strongly in, you
will commit yourself totally to that cause.
Your weakness is that sometimes you can be
indecisive and perfectionist, especially about
little details and you drive people crazy
sometimes with these traits. With the
innocence of a Hufflepuff and the calm of a
Ravenclaw you will be loved in life!

Which Mix of the Hogwarts Houses are You?
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