A Choice

TNR reviews Addiction: A Disorder of Choice by Gene M. Heyman.



Megan McArdle: Health Care Nightmares.

I can’t make heads or tails of the various whip counts floating around. Friends who report on politics assure me that Nancy Pelosi still has plenty of leverage to twist arms . . . but what? It doesn’t seem all that likely that Ms. Pelosi is going to be in charge after November, so what exactly does she have to hand out to wavering members? And if this thing passes on some controversial procedural maneuver, the Republicans in the Senate will go into full meltdown mode, meaning that there isn’t going to be any more legislation to take home to your constituents anyway. (How much pork can you cram into one financial reform bill?)

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee money for their campaigns, of course . . . but if you’re in a district that hates the health care bill this hardly seems likely to save you.

Meanwhile, Pelosi and the leadership have to sound 100% absolutely sure of themselves . . . because if there’s any question of this thing not passing, their members will stampede for the exits. So their confidence isn’t really a sign of anything. On the other hand, the conservatives claiming it’s nearly impossible have equal and opposite motives. My sense is that it’s at a tipping point–at this point, many of the waverers are simply holding out for more goodies, but if she loses a couple more members, the thing becomes effectively impossible.

Read the rest here.


The Sabbath Manifesto

A group of Jewish artists have created The Sabbath Manifesto.

Way back when, God said, “On the seventh day thou shalt rest.” The meaning behind it was simple: Take a break. Call a timeout. Find some balance. Recharge.

Somewhere along the line, however, this mantra for living faded from modern consciousness. The idea of unplugging every seventh day now feels tragically close to impossible. Who has time to take time off? We need eight days a week to get tasks accomplished, not six.

The Sabbath Manifesto was developed in the same spirit as the Slow Movement, slow food, slow living, by a small group of artists, writers, filmmakers and media professionals who, while not particularly religious, felt a collective need to fight back against our increasingly fast-paced way of living. The idea is to take time off, deadlines and paperwork be damned.

In the Manifesto, we’ve adapted our ancestors’ rituals by carving out one day per week to unwind, unplug, relax, reflect, get outdoors, get with loved ones and, if we’re lucky, get some booty, too. The ten principles are to be observed one day per week, from sunset to sunset. We invite you to practice, challenge and/or help shape what we’re creating.

Check out the ten principles here.



Does going green make people mean?

When Al Gore was caught running up huge energy bills at home at the same time as lecturing on the need to save electricity, it turns out that he was only reverting to “green” type.

According to a study, when people feel they have been morally virtuous by saving the planet through their purchases of organic baby food, for example, it leads to the “licensing [of] selfish and morally questionable behaviour”, otherwise known as “moral balancing” or “compensatory ethics”.

Do Green Products Make Us Better People? is published in the latest edition of the journal Psychological Science. Its authors, Canadian psychologists Nina Mazar and Chen-Bo Zhong, argue that people who wear what they call the “halo of green consumerism” are less likely to be kind to others, and more likely to cheat and steal. “Virtuous acts can license subsequent asocial and unethical behaviours,” they write.

You can read the report here. (pdf)


More Prejudiced?

Are Christians more prejudiced than non-Christians? A recent study suggests this is the case.

A meta-analysis of 55 independent studies carried out in the United States with more than 20,000 mostly Christian participants has found that members of religious congregations tend to harbor prejudiced views of other races.

In general, the more devout the community, the greater the racism, according to the authors of the analysis, led by Wendy Wood, Provost Professor of Psychology and Business at USC College and the USC Marshall School of Business. The study appears in the February issue of Personality and Social Psychology Review.

You can read the article here.


Breitbart II

Slate profiles Andrew Breitbart.



Equal with the disaster taking place in Congress is the Obama administration’s heavy-handed interaction with Israel. Tell me you couldn’t see this coming from 10 miles away?



Dead Congress Walking.

A stranger moment in politics has seldom been seen. A vast expansion of government that affects every one of the country’s 300-plus million inhabitants may be passed by a hair against fierce and fiercely repeated public opposition by a Congress that no longer speaks for its voters—most of whose members are angry and scared. They are afraid of their voters, and mad at each other, or rather, the Democrats are: The liberals are mad at the centrists, the centrists are mad at the liberals. Democrats in the House are angry at those in the Senate, and deeply suspicious of being betrayed. The centrists are also mad at Obama, for picking the wrong cause (health care and not the economy), doing it in the wrong way (big and expensive, not incremental and smaller), and pushing them to risk their careers in backing a cause and a program neither they nor their constituents want.



Against Atheism

Vox Day: Against the New Atheism. See here.


The Crusades

The WSJ reviews two new books on the Crusades, Holy Warriors by Jonathan Phillips, and The Crusades by Thomas Asbridge. The review also contains links to excerpts of both books.


Dorm Rooms

Mixed-gender dorm rooms are growing in popularity.

They weren’t looking to make a political statement or to be pioneers of gender liberation. Each just wanted a familiar, decent roommate rather than a stranger after their original roommates left to study abroad.

That’s how Pitzer College sophomores Kayla Eland, female, and Lindon Pronto, male, began sharing a room this semester on Holden Hall’s second floor. They are not a couple and neither is gay. They are just compatible roommates in a new, sometimes controversial, dormitory option known as gender-neutral housing that is gaining support at some colleges in California and across the nation.


Georg Northoff

A neuroscientist claims the human brain is not capable of knowing whether God exists.

One of the world’s foremost neuroscientists is about to tell some of the world’s foremost theologians the bad news: God may exist, but the human brain is simply not capable of knowing that for sure.

Georg Northoff, research director of Mind, Brain Imaging, and Neuroethics at the University of Ottawa’s Institute of Mental Health Research, will speak March 23 to several hundred theologians at the University of Marburg, in Germany. The 500-year-old school has produced such towering intellects as theologian Paul Tillich and philosopher Martin Heidegger.


Education Reform

A TNR symposium on education reform.


The Other Side

Rielle Hunter tells GQ her side of the story.


Muslim Gangs

A BBC investigation reveals Muslim gangs are taking over UK prisons.


More Evolved?

James Lewis: ‘Are Liberals, Atheists More Evolved than Conservatives?’ See here.


Ginni Thomas

Andy McCarthy answers this hit piece by the LAT.


Atheist Convention

ABC Religion is blogging the 2010 Global Atheist Convention.


Rage Against God

Check out this excerpt of The Rage Against God by Peter Hitchens.

Peter Hitchens lost faith as a teenager. But eventually finding atheism barren, he came by a logical process to his current affiliation to an unmodernised belief in Christianity.

Hitchens describes his return from the far political left. Familiar with British left-wing politics, it was travelling in the Communist bloc that first undermined and replaced his leftism, a process virtually completed when he became a newspaper’s resident Moscow correspondent in 1990, just before the collapse of the Communist Party. He became convinced of certain propositions. That modern western social democratic politics is a form of false religion in which people try to substitute a social conscience for an individual one. That utopianism is actively dangerous. That liberty and law are attainable human objectives which are also the good by-products of Christian faith. Faith is the best antidote to utopianism, dismissing the dangerous idea of earthly perfection, discouraging people from acting as if they were God, encouraging people to act in the belief that there is a God and an ordered, purposeful universe, governed by an unalterable law.



An atheist attends his grandmother’s funeral.