There is amongst MercatorNet’s editorial staff a zombie enthusiast. I won’t mention names, but it’s not me, so that leaves only two other people and I will leave to guess which of them it is. It could be both.
I have never seen a zombie film, or read a zombie book, but I gather from the said enthusiast and a rather erudite article on the subject that we have published today, that there is a lot to be learned from them.
According to the article, today’s death-dealing hordes are the product of a globalised, risk conscious world, reflecting distrust of governments, terrorism, a sense of impending chaos and I don’t know what else. But, clearly, I need to see them in action in order to understand the anxieties of the world today.
What we really ought o be worrying about, though, is the subject of Robert Putnam’s new book, Our Kids, which is about the increasing numbers of children growing up without both a mother and father to give them security and affection, without a decent education, moral guidance or any idea that they can strive for a better life. Putnam is writing about America but most of what he says applies across the West to some degree.
There is an answer, of course, but most scholars and politicians put it in the too hard basket, as I have noted in my article today.. There’s something zombie-like about the leaders of the West today, don’t you think?
Last word: There's another great Tolkien video on the front page today -- a 4 minute crash course on the different types of "people" found in Lord of the Rings. Enjoy.
The sex education debate is as old as the sexual revolution itself and a product of it. The idea that the sexual drive should not be inhibited and that a technical solution can be found for any adverse consequences has shaped relations between the sexes for at least 40 years, and the results have been universally destructive. One of the worst is the undermining of childhood innocence and adolescent idealism through explicit and ideologically loaded school programmes. If you are not au fait with the trend, take a look at the opening paragraph of Ada Slivinski's article about a highly controversial Ontario curriculum.
One might guess that such horrible ideas are the product of a younger generation who grew up not knowing any better. But the sight of ageing baby boomers waving these documents around and shaping their content puts paid to that excuse. One of the experts on the Ontario programme is a 63-year-old man convicted this week of child pornography and encouraging sexual abuse of a child.
But the whole decadent trend goes back much further, as Valerie Huber's overview of the history of sex-ed shows, beginning with some eye-popping statistics about the sexual health of the men who went to fight in the First World War. The arrival of AIDS in the 1980s became a reason, and an excuse for today's repulsive programmes.
But here's the good news: the most recent US government report on adolescent sexual health says that "75 percent of 15- to 17-year-olds have never had sex, and the majority have had no sexual contact at all," reports Ms Huber. "Proponents of sexual restraint could be on the cusp of rewriting the social norms surrounding teen sex." We have to make that hope come true.
Hillary Clinton’s decision to delete all of her personal emails on her personal server before handing over 55,000 pages of work-related emails to the State Department seems bizarre for a person of her political experience.
If she had nothing to hide, why delete them? She could have allowed the State Department to draw fat black lines through personal references before releasing them to the public. The dispute would have simmered on, but eventually it would have died away. Now her political opponents can plausibly accuse her of hiding dark secrets. We can look forward to a rerun of President Obama’s woes, with the word “Benghazi”, replacing “birth certificate”.
I read in ancient history books about a guy named Nixon who deleted and lost tapes of his conversations in the White House. Lack of transparency got him in lots of hot water. But all that happened before the internet and he was a Republican, so it’s obviously not relevant to Mrs Clinton.
As George Friedman points out in his article on the American electoral system (see below), this tempest in a tea pot is the gong which signals the beginning of the cruel slugfest which is the primary season. It’s off to a great start!
The brutality of the Islamic State beggars belief, but evil never triumphs in the end. I followed up some of the links in Fr James Schall’s article (see below) and was very edified by the reaction of the relatives of the 21 men murdered in Libya last month.
The mother of two of the men told her surviving son that if she met one of the killers on the street, she would invite him into her house. She would “ask God to open his eyes because he was the reason her sons entered the kingdom of heaven.”
That was backed up by Bishop Angaelos, the head of the Coptic Church in the United Kingdom. A BBC reporter asked him what message he would have for ISIS. “I would say that every religion starts from the premise of the sanctity of life and no matter what differences there are, this doesn’t justify the taking of a life,” he responded. “I pray for them, that somehow their hearts are touched. I’m sure that not everyone there is so callous.”
This noble response, I’m sure, is what will ultimately bring an end to the barbarities of ISIS (some of which are described below).
"What would Abe have said about same-sex marriage" is at the top of our most read list today, with 200 comments featuring many of our regular contenders. And there is more grist to their mill with this week's halting of same-sex marriages in Alabama by the state's Supreme Court, which I have covered in my post on Conjugality. Since the justices were defending states rights as well as marriage, I gather that Abe might have approved. Their decision is probably one of the best documents of its kind around, so I went to the trouble of pulling out some passages to whet your appetite.
If that's too heavy try Michael Cook's profile of Mr Spock, the utilitarian, or Tamara Rajakariar's marriage advice, or... I think there's something for everybody on the site right now.
I have never practised yoga. Someone gave me a book on it once but it was already too late: my body was set in its ways and I couldn't even sit cross-legged on the floor, let alone make myself into the shape of a swastika (viewed standing on it's side, that is). So it is very affirming to read Zac Alstin's article and discover that most Westerners, anyway, are practising a dumbed down version without the spiritual rigour that goes with real yoga and meditation. And that it has its share of crooks.
I would venture to say that yoga and Eastern meditation are of little help in resolving one of the great debates on our website and in the Western world today -- namely, whether homosexuality is an inherent quality of human nature, or something else. For this reason Zac has written another article outlining what natural law theory can tell us about this. It will probably not impress commenters who pooh-hoo the whole idea of natural law but I found it quite helpful myself. Among other things he clarifies the meaning of "eudaimonia" -- a term almost as popular as "mindfulness" these days among cultural trend-setters. Anyway, read for yourself, and comment if you are so moved.
There is one more article I must mention -- a couple of days old but not attracting the attention it richly deserves, I fear. Michael Cook's Trolling the Gettysburg Address is one of the wittiest, funniest pieces we've ever had on the site. As a Kiwi, not well versed in American Civil War history, I still found it hilarious. Americans should be, you know, LOL-ing, if not ROFL. Do have a read if you haven't yet.
I can't claim to be an expert on women's feelings, but I know a good story when I see one, and Carolyn Moynihan has nailed it today. She is commenting on the most-emailed article in the New York Times over the weekend.
A female psychiatrist is worried by the fact that at least one in four American women is taking anti-depressants to overcome her moods. This is “insane”, she says. By nature, “Women are moody. By evolutionary design, we are hard-wired to be sensitive to our environments, empathetic to our children’s needs and intuitive of our partners’ intentions. This is basic to our survival and that of our offspring.”
On this day in 1865, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Freedman's Bureau Bill. This law established Federal agencies to help former slaves adjust to freedom. They were supposed to organise medical care, education, jobs and land in the difficult years of Reconstruction. This sort of initiative is expected of governments nowadays, but for the US it was a tentative step into the New World of the welfare state. Unfortunately, this ambitious program collapsed soon afterwards.
All of which goes to show the continuing relevance of Lincoln to American history and politics. Some of the big issues of his years in office have a familiar ring to them: immigration, war, a war on terror, free speech, the expansion of the welfare state -- and wrangles over states' rights. Michael Stokes Paulsen takes up this theme and asks how Lincoln would have dealt with same-sex marriage. For anyone interested in American history, he has some fascinating insights.
Some of the most interesting research on abortion is coming out of the MELISA Institute in Chile. Epidemiologist Elard Koch and his colleagues have written several papers about the correlation between legislation, both permissive and restrictive, and maternal deaths.
In the latest one, they found that Mexican states with less permissive abortion laws had 23 percent lower overall maternal mortality, and up to 47 percent lower mortality from complications of abortion. This ought to be on the front page of the New York Times. But it won't. So read it on MercatorNet -- the link is below.