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Salman Rushdie Symposium @ Emory w/ Christopher Hitchens February 28, 2010

Posted by rationalskeptic in Christopher Hitchens.
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Salman Rushdie, Deepa Mehta, and Christopher Hitchens in discussion

On Friday February 26, 2010, I attended the Salman Rushdie Symposium at Emory University for the opening of the Salman Rushdie archive at Emory.

If you have read this blog at any length, you have realized that Christopher Hitchens is an enormous influence of mine, and on Friday I was finally able to see him in discussion and meet him afterwards.

The discussion was titled “The Only Subject Is Love: Imagining Better Worlds,” and they stayed on topic at the beginning of their discourse, but Rushdie and Hitchens took the talk to different areas of interest.  Christopher Hitchens talked about how compulsory love from an authoritarian dictator was an evil concept while simultaneously commanded to fear him. Hitchens talks about these issues in many debates, articles, speeches, etc but it resonated more so considering the topic of discussion, which was love.

Christopher having a post symposium cigarette (My wife Lesley, Hitchens, and myself)

 

One interesting comment made during the discussion, was when Rushdie said that he offered up the title of “Hitch-22” for Hitchens’ forthcoming memoir, which I thought was an interesting little factoid.

Emory University had the event filmed and should be available on their website sometime next week.

All in all it was an incredible event, and I will be posting a more thorough review soon.

Christopher Hitchens' autograph

 

Hitchens and I talking about Chomsky and Christianity

A Nation of Racist Dwarfs by Christopher Hitchens (Slate.com) February 7, 2010

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Kim Jong-il’s regime is even weirder and more despicable than you thought.

By Christopher HitchensPosted Monday, Feb. 1, 2010, at 10:01 AM ET

Visiting North Korea some years ago, I was lucky to have a fairly genial “minder” whom I’ll call Mr. Chae. He guided me patiently around the ruined and starving country, explaining things away by means of a sort of denial mechanism and never seeming to lose interest in the gargantuan monuments to the world’s most hysterical and operatic leader-cult. One evening, as we tried to dine on some gristly bits of duck, he mentioned yet another reason why the day should not long be postponed when the whole peninsula was united under the beaming rule of the Dear Leader. The people of South Korea, he pointed out, were becoming mongrelized. They wedded foreigners—even black American soldiers, or so he’d heard to his evident disgust—and were losing their purity and distinction. Not for Mr. Chae the charm of the ethnic mosaic, but rather a rigid and unpolluted uniformity.

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Life Expectancy Throughout the Centuries February 7, 2010

Posted by rationalskeptic in The Bible.
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 Below is a list of the life expectancies of Humans throughtout the centuries.

As we all know, the Bible claims that many people in the ancient world lived well into their hundreds. Here is a classic passage regarding “the oldest man who has ever lived” from Genesis 5:27: And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died.

There are tons of verses in the Jewish scriptures that refer to people living well into numerous centuries, but as the chart shows, this is complete and utter bullshit.

Humans by Era        Average Lifespan at Birth
                                                        (years)

Upper Paleolithic                       33

Neolithic                                        20

Bronze Age                                   18

Classical Greece                         28

Classical Rome                           28

Pre-Columbian North America 25-30

Medieval Islamic Caliphate        35

Medieval Britain                        20-30

Early 20th Century                  30-45

Current world average            66.58