Salman Rushdie Symposium @ Emory w/ Christopher Hitchens February 28, 2010Posted by rationalskeptic in Christopher Hitchens.
Tags: Christopher Hitchens, Emory University, Salman Rushdie
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.
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.
A Nation of Racist Dwarfs by Christopher Hitchens (Slate.com) February 7, 2010Posted by rationalskeptic in Christopher Hitchens.
Tags: Christopher Hitchens, North Korea
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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.
Click the image above or here to read the rest of the article
Life Expectancy Throughout the Centuries February 7, 2010Posted by rationalskeptic in The Bible.
Tags: Life Expectancy, Old Testament
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
Upper Paleolithic 33
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
Recommended Reading: Christopher Hitchens and Martin Amis January 17, 2010Posted by rationalskeptic in Prose.
Tags: 9/11, Christopher Hitchens, Gore Vidal, Martin Amis
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Vidal Loco by Christopher Hitchens Vanity Fair Jan/Feb 2010
“…if it’s true even to any degree that we were all changed by September 11, 2001, it’s probably truer of Vidal that it made him more the way he already was, and accentuated a crackpot strain that gradually asserted itself as dominant. If you look at his writings from that time, thrown together in a couple of cheap paperbacks entitled Dreaming War and Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace, you will find the more crass notions of Michael Moore or Oliver Stone being expressed in language that falls some distance short of the Wildean ideal.”
I just finished reading Martin Amis’ book The Second Plane: September 11: Terror and Boredom and consider it a must read. The cover image of the aforementioned book links to the Amazon page.
The Top 10 Science Stories of 2009 (Scientific American) January 3, 2010Posted by rationalskeptic in Science.
Tags: Science, Top Science Stories of 2009
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Scientific American’s annual list of the previous year’s top science stories encapsulated my personal picks and generally science enthusiasts around the world. 2009 highlighted the triumphs of the scientific enterprise in seemingly all areas of study, and also marked numerous anniversaries in scientific history.
For instance, the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth, 150th anniversary of the publication on On the Origin of the Species, 40th anniversary of man setting foot onto another world (the moon), 400th anniversary of Galileo’s discovery of the motion of the planets, and many more. 2009 was also the International Year of Astronomy, which had many exciting events, education materials, telescopes, and so on either free or very inexpensive for the public to become engaged with the excitement of astronomy.
Scientific American’s top 10 list this year, wraps up the most exciting and most important discoveries/stories of 2009, better than any other (in my opinion, of course.) So, click the image above and enjoy a recap of science in 2009!
Christopher Hitchens: Merry Christmas. Now, about that public display … December 13, 2009Posted by rationalskeptic in Christopher Hitchens.
Tags: Christopher Hitchens, Secular Republic, White House, X-Mas
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(Title and picture taken from StarTribune.com)
The annual Christopher Hitchens article on Christmas arrived yesterday and is a must read for anyone interested in Hitchens, Christmas, our Secular Republic or a mixture of the three.
A reported scheme for a “nonreligious” celebration of Christmas in the Obama White House was over before it began, long before it could become part of that old seasonal favorite, “the war on Christmas.” I never believed the original reports anyway: The president has no need to incite those who already think that he is a closet Communist or stealth Muslim. But that doesn’t mean that there is nothing to argue about. The White House is, as some recent interlopers have again proved, public property. And its East Room is one of the parts of it that are not reserved for the First Family’s private life. So the constitutional question — should taxpayer-funded space be used for the affirmation of any faith? — is as real there, if not indeed more so, as it is anywhere else.
This inital paragraph sums up the article very succinctly. Hitchens is an anomaly among american journalists, in that, he is the antithesis of the all too common political ideologue (a person who zealously advocates an ideology). It is so easy for the political left and right to pigeonhole him, but if they took a moment to read a random sampling of Hitchens’ writing it would become obvious very quickly that this argument has no legs.
I never cease to be amazed by how little the Bible-believing Protestants, who constitute most of the soldiery in the Christmas wars, know about their own tradition. Under the rule of the Puritan Revolution in England, the celebration of Christmas was banned outright. This was for three reasons: The December fiesta was actually the honoring of paganism in disguise, and a descendant of the old rites of the winter solstice. Then, it was also a manifestation of popery and superstition (the “Christ-Mass”). Finally, it was an excuse for the riff-raff to get drunk and disorderly. Only the last part seems to have survived.
The obvious ignorance of the typical modern protestant evangelical in America is simultaneously tragic and hilarious. But, lets give Hitchens the rest of this post to sum up his primary concerns this Christmas season:
None of the four gospels gives any notion of what time of year the supposed Nativity occurred. Only two gospels mention the virginity of Mary, and only one has any mention of a “manger.” Wise men and shepherds are likewise very unevenly distributed throughout the discrepant accounts. So that the placement of a crèche surrounded by a motley crew of humans and animals has no more scriptural warrant than does “The Life of Brian.” Moreover, the erection of this exhibit near the turn of the year is actually a placation of the old Norse gods of the winter solstice
I myself repose no faith in any man-made text or made-man redeemer, so when it’s Christmas I say “Merry Christmas” with a clear conscience, as I respect Ramadan and Passover, and also because “Happy Holidays” is so thin and insipid.
I don’t mind if Christians honor the moment by displaying, and singing about, reindeer (a hard species to find in the greater Jerusalem/Bethlehem area). Same for the pine trees that also don’t grow in Palestine. I wish everybody joy of it.
But within a few minutes of where most Americans live there are several privately owned and partially tax-exempt institutions. They are called “churches,” and if they ring their bells I have to hear and if they put up inspiring billboards I have to see. Why isn’t that enough?
It is not the business of the chief executive to take any part in this business. May his daughters’ stockings be well-stuffed, may a mythical St. Nick from ancient mythology delight them, may visions of sugarplums dance in their heads, but please, not in the parts of the White House that belong to the world’s first secular republic.
Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair and the author of “God Is Not Great.”
European Caroonist “Under Fire” For His Cute Cartoons of the “Gods” December 13, 2009Posted by rationalskeptic in Cartoon.
Tags: Cartoons, Comedy, Silly Theists
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The images really say it all: (click on the pictures to get a rough Google translation from German to English)
Just in time for Christmas!
Christopher Hitchens latest November 22, 2009Posted by rationalskeptic in Christopher Hitchens.
Tags: Christopher Hitchens, Ft. Hood, Sarah Palin
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Multicultural MasochismThe “war on terrorism”
didn’t cause the Fort Hood shootings.
Posted Monday, Nov. 23, 2009, at 1:37 PM ET
(The second article regarding the Fort Hood murders)
Palin’s Base Appeal
Seven salient facts about Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan.
By Christopher HitchensPosted Monday, Nov. 16, 2009, at 11:46 AM ET
Tags: Atheism, Christopher Hitchens, Debate, Religion
Debate – Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett vs Dinesh D’Souza, Shmuley Boteach, Nassim Taleb. Neutral: Robert Wright. La Ciudad de las Ideas 2009 Re-evolution
The Pity of War, by Christopher Hitchens (The Atlantic) October 22, 2009Posted by rationalskeptic in Christopher Hitchens.
Tags: Christopher Hitchens, The Atlantic, War
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Christopher Hitchens doesn’t have an official website, and there are no Hitchens aggregates out there, so I am going to attempt to fill this void. This is his most recent peice from The Atlantic, and I will continue to post his newest articles as I run across them.
The Pity of War
I went to the Central Lobby of the Houses of Parliament in London to keep an appointment with the almost picturesquely reactionary Conservative politician Alan Clark. He was the son of Kenneth (later Lord) Clark—the art historian and author of the Civilisation series—and the heir to Saltwood Castle, in Kent. He was also the author of a 1961 book, The Donkeys, which was a history of the British General Staff in the First World War. The title came from a famous comment that had supposedly been made at that epoch by a German military strategist. Told by the highly impressed Quartermaster General Ludendorff that “these British soldiers fight like lions,” General Max Hoffmann had responded: “Yes, but lions led by donkeys.”
He [Joffre] therefore was of the opinion that 1 July was the latest date for the combined offensive … The moment I mentioned 15 August Joffre at once got very excited and shouted that “The French Army would cease to exist, if we did nothing till then”! The rest of us looked on at this outburst of excitement, and then I pointed out that, in spite of the 15th August being the most favorable date for the British Army to take action, yet, in view of what he had said regarding the unfortunate condition of the French Army, I was prepared to commence operations on the 1st July or thereabouts.
Even if Haig had fully realized the depth and breadth of the losses suffered by his assaulting divisions on 1 July he could not have aborted the offensive without seriously jeopardizing the Entente Cordiale with France and Russia … They were unlikely to look on with any great sympathy if Britain tried to evade her share of the “butcher’s bill.”
And I must say that they fought most stubbornly and bravely. Probably not more than 300–500 put their hands up … I have no shame in saying so—as every German should in my opinion be exterminated—I don’t know that we took one. I have not seen a man or officer yet who did anyway.
A few hundred yards away from where we were fast becoming busy, my good and brave friend, Captain Nevill, led his men into the fight with footballs. And thus he died. With the Englishman’s way of fighting, he went on his way. The War was a game which was to be played to the end in a clean and straight manner.
Some of their divisional generals are so ignorant and (like so many Colonials) so conceited, that they cannot be trusted to work out unaided the plans of attack.