Wednesday, December 14, 2011

One Man’s Times

You may not like the left-leaning stance of the New York Timesmy father sure did not—but it’s hard to argue with the depth of its reporting. That, or laziness, is why I often start the day by looking over the on-line edition. Almost every day, I find an article that grabs my attention. Today I found eight.

They came in pairs. Two articles made me wonder whether anything but prayer can undo the impossibly complex international network of terrorism, drug trafficking, and money laundering. Two suggested that the on-line social network world—the real world for most of us now—is moving into a new phase. Two of them made me ponder again whether God and science are compatible. And two—Dad would smile—were about sports.

International Network
Jo Becker gets the byline for the lead article on today’s front page, “Beirut Bank Seen as a Hub of Hezbollah’s Financing.” Until the economy turns around decisively, Obama will have to pin his hopes of reelection on his administration’s international accomplishments, like the execution of Osama bin Laden and the quiet undermining of Gaddafi.

Here’s another accomplishment: the cracking of an enormous ongoing money-laundering scheme connecting the Lebanese terror organization Hezbollah with the international drug trade. In a long, complex piece, Becker and her team uncover how the Treasury Department analyzed money flows in and out of the Lebanese Canadian Bank and forced it to shut. Hezbollah started thirty years ago as “a guerrilla force aimed at the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon.” Now it has more power and influence than the Lebanese government.

A similar scenario may unfold in Iraq after US forces are withdrawn, or so I concluded from Andrew Kramer’s article “U.S. Leaving Iraqi Comrades-in-Arms in Limbo.” Will the independent Sunni Awakening become the region’s next Hezbollah?

Social Network
YouTube is getting more commercial, while some shun Facebook. That’s what’s happening in your world, if you spend much time “socializing” on line, as I do. It’s probably inevitable that “a largely unregulated repository of funny cats, anonymous guitar masters, angry Asian bus riders and countless other weird and wonderful things”—aka YouTube—has been redesigned as “more commercial, more predictable and, its owners hope, more televisionlike.” Users are not happy, as Mike Hale notes in “A New YouTube, Herding the Funny Cats.” Meanwhile, Jenna Wortham reports on “The Facebook Resisters,” (young) people who aren’t using the social network at all. Wortham writes, “One of Facebook’s main selling points is that it builds closer ties among friends and colleagues. But some who steer clear of the site say it can have the opposite effect of making them feel more, not less, alienated.”

God and Science
For obvious reasons, my favorite article in today’s Times is Jennifer Schuessler’s “Philosopher Sticks Up For God.” Here we meet Alvin Plantinga, a Christian and a noted academic philosopher (ordinarily contradictory callings). His latest book, Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion and Naturalism, takes on celebrity atheists like Richard Dawkins and Daniel C. Dennett. I wonder what Plantinga would say about the search for the Higgs Boson, the final piece in the so-called Standard Model currently held by nuclear physicists. Dennis Overbye tells that tale in “Data Hints at Elusive Particle, but the Wait Continues.” What I say is, even if the existence of the boson is “confirmed,” physicists will look for something beyond it, if only to justify their research grants.

Until he loses, I am committed to making every reasonable mention of Tim Tebow, evangelical Christian quarterback of the Denver Broncos. This Sunday, for the first time in 40 years, I will be rooting against my New England Patriots when they take on Tebow’s band of believers in the Mile-High City. It’s hard to root against the Pats’ record-setting tight end, profiled by Chase Stuart in “Rob Gronkowski, and the Year of the Tight End.” Elsewhere on the Times sports page, Stuart has another piece, this one on Tebow and the great George Blanda. If you don’t know who George Blanda was, you’re too young or you don’t know football. Find out in “Before Tebow, There was Blanda.”

1 comment:

  1. I also read the New York Times article about Alvin Plantinga. It should have been called "Philosopher Sticks Up For Magic."

    Plantinga invokes Michael Behe in his book. I wonder if that chapter says anything about the fact that the biology department of Behe's Lehigh University is ashamed of him. They even wrote about him in their website, implying that he is dishonest.

    Behe's "intelligent design" are code words for "supernatural magic". It's an anti-science idea as are all religious fantasies.

    I noticed you're a Catholic. Do you ever get tired of giving your hard earned money to the wealthy sexual child abuse organization called the Vatican?


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