February 4 - 10, 2007

This column will provide links to, plus quotes and summaries of, on-line articles that might be of interest to the Infidel community. Because theinfidels.org is concerned with educational issues, the articles selected will help to inform and enlighten readers as well as entertain them. In order to conform to "fair use practices," only small segments of the articles will be quoted. One caveat: to read the entire linked article, readers may have to subscribe to on-line versions of newspapers or magazines.

For a lead, I must honor Molly Ivins, given I'm another woman writer from Texas. Molly is a lady most worthy of remembrance, and so here is a clip from Paul Krugman's column about Molly, published in the NY Times. Like Krugman, I will lament the passing of this amazingly prescient (honest) female journalist:

Molly never lost sight of two eternal truths: rulers lie, and the times when people are most afraid to challenge authority are also the times when it’s most important to do just that. And the fact that she remembered these truths explains something I haven’t seen pointed out in any of the tributes: her extraordinary prescience on the central political issue of our time.

I’ve been going through Molly’s columns from 2002 and 2003, the period when most of the wise men of the press cheered as Our Leader took us to war on false pretenses, then dismissed as “Bush haters” anyone who complained about the absence of W.M.D. or warned that the victory celebrations were premature. Here are a few selections:

Nov. 19, 2002: “The greatest risk for us in invading Iraq is probably not war itself, so much as: What happens after we win? ... There is a batty degree of triumphalism loose in this country right now.”

Jan. 16, 2003: “I assume we can defeat Hussein without great cost to our side (God forgive me if that is hubris). The problem is what happens after we win. The country is 20 percent Kurd, 20 percent Sunni and 60 percent Shiite. Can you say, ‘Horrible three-way civil war?’ ”

July 14, 2003: “I opposed the war in Iraq because I thought it would lead to the peace from hell, but I’d rather not see my prediction come true and I don’t think we have much time left to avert it. That the occupation is not going well is apparent to everyone but Donald Rumsfeld. ... We don’t need people with credentials as right-wing ideologues and corporate privatizers — we need people who know how to fix water and power plants.”

Read the full Times article here...

Now that I'm in "synch" with my "feminist/humanist" self, here is a portion of a column from the Seattle Times about a long tradition of women choosing whom to marry on the African isle of Guinea:

ORANGO ISLAND, Guinea-Bissau — He was 14 when the girl entered his grass-covered hut and placed a plate of steaming fish in front of him.

Like all men on this African isle, Carvadju Jose Nananghe knew exactly what it meant. Refusing was not an option. His heart pounding, he lifted the aromatic dish, prepared with an ancient recipe, to his lips, agreeing in one bite to marry the girl.
"I had no feelings for her," said Nananghe, now 65. "Then when I ate this meal, it was like lightning. I wanted only her."
In this archipelago of 50 islands off the western rim of Africa, it's women, not men, who choose. They make their proposals public by offering their grooms-to-be a dish of distinctively prepared fish, marinated in red palm oil. Once they have asked, men are powerless to say no.

To have refused, explained Nananghe, remembering the day half a century ago, would have dishonored his family — and in any case, why would he want to choose his own wife?

"Love comes first into the heart of the woman," he explained. "Once it's in the woman, only then can it jump into the man."

Read the complete story here...

Okay, for any football enthusiasts, male or female, I will relent from my feminist point-of-view, given that it's likely Super Bowl Sunday when this column is posted. And so here is a short snip from a report of a preview of the champion football game, as reported by the Los Angeles Times:

They were expecting a big crowd this Sunday at Farmland Friends Church in rural Indiana.

The sanctuary would be decked in blue and white streamers, the card tables groaning with sloppy-Joe fixings and bowls of chips. Best of all, the pews would be packed with scores of the faithful: men, women and children, shoulder to shoulder, hooting at a jumbo screen as their beloved Indianapolis Colts coasted — God willing — to victory over the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI.

It was to have been a wholesome evening of fellowship and football.

And it would have been illegal.

Farmland Friends on Friday joined churches nationwide in abruptly canceling its Super Bowl party for fear of violating a federal copyright law that prohibits public venues from showing NFL games on big-screen TVs.

Sports bars are specifically exempted. Churches are not.

The law has been widely ignored for years. Churches routinely draw hundreds of fans to annual Super Bowl parties; some denominations openly use the events as tools for evangelism. The Christian magazine Sports Spectrum even markets a Super Bowl party kit for churches. This year, however, a celebration sponsored by Falls Creek Baptist Church in Indianapolis caught the attention of a National Football League attorney, Rachel L. Margolies.

Read the full story at the L.A. Times...

Shifting topics: Is this method of teaching very young children a corruption of the Montressori method? It involves leading young kids into spiritual or outright religious engagement, according to an article in the Boston Globe:

Snug as a waistcoat, the tiny room nevertheless accommodates the six children splayed in a crescent of toddler chairs. Sitting cross-legged on the floor, their teacher, the Rev. Joyce Scherer-Hoock, launches into the day's lesson, the parable of the Good Shepherd. The children, most of them 4 years old, will get a hands-on introduction to the biblical story.

Not that they will herd sheep through the vestry. But Peabody's St. Paul's Episcopal Church runs a Montessori Sunday school, following the same educational philosophy as that of the secular schools founded by early 20th-century educator Maria Montessori.

Read the full Globe article here...

To me, another rather discouraging article about the importance of finding "god" if you suffer from clinical depression. I very reluctantly report this article, given what I think is the genetic component to many brain/mood disorders within my own and my husband's family; this article to me seems stupidly biased, from the Christian Science Monitor:

n Robert Harling's 1987 play "Steel Magnolias," one of the characters delivers the memorable line, "I've been in a bad mood for forty years."

This line, a crowd-pleaser, has inserted itself into popular culture, and is often used to describe chronic depression.
Statistics indicate that up to 5 percent of the American public might be suffering from this disorder. Treatment options run from drugs and therapy to somewhat controversial mind-body programs and relaxation techniques.

At a time when I was feeling pretty low about my job, my salary, my relationships with others, and generally feeling without purpose, prayer turned me around. I found joy, new purpose, and a renewed richness and value in my interpersonal relationships. That uplift from a spiritualized consciousness has stayed with me for almost 20 years now.

It happened because I turned completely to God in prayer. The Bible took on increased importance in my life. It came alive with promise and a dynamism that transformed me.

The source of all this is God, the eternal Father-Mother, who loves us so completely that our whole being is permeated with divine Love. This Love doesn't depend on human circumstances, but enfolds us because of our inseparability from it.

Read the complete story here...

Lastly, just for a change of pace, an image beautiful and artistic, unfortunately labeled "mystical" on the San Francisco Chronicle's web site. It could have been labeled, very easily, sublime or Romantic, but our verbal currency seems horribly stilted toward the vaguely spiritual:

Out of the total darkness, like a UFO, the Queen Mary 2 steamed gracefully into the Acapulco Harbor on Feb. 1, where reporter Carl Nolte and I awaited her arrival. Carl and I got the royal order from our editors to make the journey on the ship as she travels north up the western coast from Acapulco to San Francisco - not bad duty.

A tripod helps somewhat but when there is no light and a ship is moving, my advice is hold your breath: otherwise you'll get movement in your photographs. I submitted this photo via the ship's satellite phone. I'm leaving this up on the blog over the weekend and should be posting more photos on Monday...

Read the full article here...

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