Archived Posts July 2005 » Page 7 of 9 | Acton PowerBlog

The Thinking Toolbox: Thirty-Five Lessons That Will Build Your Reasoning Skills, by Nathaniel Bluedorn and Hans Bluedorn, illustrated by Richard LaPierre, ISBN 0974531510, 234 pp. Christian Logic, 2005.

Nathaniel and Hans Bluedorn are brothers who live in Indiana (more about them at www.christianlogic.com) and The Thinking Toolbox is a follow-up to their first book, The Fallacy Detective. These books are primarily intended for use as homeschooling textbooks, and the Bluedorns’ interest in this area stems largely from their education at home growing up.

In an interview, Nathaniel gets at the intention behind the book: to make logic accessible and enjoyable for students. “Logic books are notorious for being very difficult, very austere,” he says. Instead, logic should be “a very enjoyable thing that everybody can do.” Hans affirms that the first step is to get kids to “think at all, and then the next step is to get them to think correctly.”

The book is a course of 35 lessons, with illustrations, applications, and exercises forming distinct little units. Colorful illustrations abound in the book, courtesy of Richard LaPierre. The book starts with the most basic building blocks of critical thinking, inculcating rules like “Just because somebody tells you something, that doesn’t mean it is true,” and moving on to examine things like the different kinds of discourse, and recognizing the difference between facts, opinions, and inferences.
(more…)

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Thursday, July 7, 2005

I’m not sure whether this reflects the fractiousness of the European “Union,” or European unity in opposition to protection for intellectual property (or both), but yesterday the European Parliament “overwhelmingly rejected a proposed law Wednesday to create a single way of patenting software across the European Union.”

“Patents will continue to be handled by national patent offices … as before, which means different interpretations as to what is patentable, without any judiciary control by the European Court of Justice,” said EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, representing the EU head office at the vote.

So in one sense this development maintains the status quo, with each member state retaining the sovereignty to fashion its own patent law. Of course, it undermines the unity of Europe as a market governed by common regulations and laws. This follows months of volleying the bill back and forth between the Parliament and the Commission, which originated the measure.

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Thursday, July 7, 2005

ARMAVIRUMQUE passes along an excerpt from an article posted yesterday by The New Republic, “The Killing Machine,” by Alvaro Vargas Llosa. The article is about Che Guevara, and the famous photograph that “thirty-eight years after his death, is still the logo of revolutionary (or is it capitalist?) chic.”

Llosa interviews Javier Arzuaga, a former Catholic priest, self-described as “closer to Leonardo Boff and Liberation Theology than to the former Cardinal Ratzinger.” Arzuaga’s relates the following:

there were about eight hundred prisoners in a space fit for no more than three hundred: former Batista military and police personnel, some journalists, a few businessmen and merchants. The revolutionary tribunal was made of militiamen. Che Guevara presided over the appellate court. He never overturned a sentence…. I pleaded many times with Che on behalf of prisoners. I remember especially the case of Ariel Lima, a young boy. Che did not budge.

For more about Guevara, check out ARMAVIRUMQUE for a link to a story in The New Criterion, “The real Che,” by Anthony Daniels.

You may also recall the recent Hollywood release, The Motorcycle Diaries, examined in part in an Acton Commentary by Bruce Edward Walker, “Scary Movie: Hollywood Humanizes the Despot.” Walker writes that the film is “frightening in its attempts to humanize the South American ideologue and revolutionary Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara. The film is an attempt to validate the Communist ideology as a cure for the diseases of poverty and illness and as a substitute for the religion that is, in the film’s depiction, petty and ineffective.”

So we see the irony of a rabid Communist like Che Guevara becoming a pop culture icon, so that, in the words of Llosa, “His likeness adorns mugs, hoodies, lighters, key chains, wallets, baseball caps, toques, bandannas, tank tops, club shirts, couture bags, denim jeans, herbal tea,” and more. Whence comes this contradiction?

As I commented in a relevant blog post over at Brad Warthen’s Blog, some of the contemporary appeal can be linked to the popularization and idolization of Guevara by Zack de la Rocha and the group Rage Against the Machine. Their music is featured in The Matrix movies, and they are perhaps most famous for their subversive politics and revolutionary ideology. The group was formed in 1990 and broke up in 2000, a decade in which their popularity peaked, influencing a generation of pop culture.

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Thursday, July 7, 2005

Are you a blogger? Then you are invited to take the MIT Weblog Survey of 2005.


Take the MIT Weblog Survey

A new analysis of birth records by the Center for Immigration Studies shows that in 2002 almost one in four births in the United States was to an immigrant mother (legal and illegal), the highest level in American history. In addition, nearly ten percent of all births in the country were to illegal-alien mothers. It is currently U.S. government policy to award American citizenship to all persons born on U.S. soil, even the children of tourists and illegal aliens. In 2002, 23 percent of all births in the United States were to immigrant mothers (legal or illegal), compared to 15 percent in 1990, 9 percent in 1980 and 6 percent in 1970. The states with the most dramatic increase in births to immigrants in the last decade are Georgia, North Carolina, Nevada, Nebraska, Arkansas, Arizona, Tennessee, Minnesota, Colorado, Delaware, Virginia, and Maryland.

Blog author: mvandermaas
posted by on Thursday, July 7, 2005

Another day of tragic news. The thoughts and prayers of all of us here at Acton are with the victims of today’s terrorist attacks in London.

In the words of puritan Samuel Hieron, in the care of a bad

Miller we loose but our meale, of the Farrier but our horse, of the Taylour but our garment, of the Lawyer but our money, of the Physitian but our bodyes: but in the hands of an vnfaithfull minister a man looseth his soule and his everlasting portion in heaven.

–Samuel Hieron, Aarons Bells A-sounding (1623), quoted in J. William Black, Reformation Pastors: Richard Baxter and the Ideal of the Reformed Pastor (Waynesboro, GA: Paternoster Press, 2004), 35.

A fascinating interview with Kenyan economist James Shikwati in the July 4 edition of Der Spiegel:

SPIEGEL: Mr. Shikwati, the G8 summit at Gleneagles is about to beef up the development aid for Africa…

Shikwati: … for God’s sake, please just stop.

SPIEGEL: Stop? The industrialized nations of the West want to eliminate hunger and poverty.

Shikwati: Such intentions have been damaging our continent for the past 40 years. If the industrial nations really want to help the Africans, they should finally terminate this awful aid. The countries that have collected the most development aid are also the ones that are in the worst shape. Despite the billions that have poured in to Africa, the continent remains poor.

SPIEGEL: Do you have an explanation for this paradox?

Shikwati: Huge bureaucracies are financed (with the aid money), corruption and complacency are promoted, Africans are taught to be beggars and not to be independent. In addition, development aid weakens the local markets everywhere and dampens the spirit of entrepreneurship that we so desperately need. As absurd as it may sound: Development aid is one of the reasons for Africa’s problems. If the West were to cancel these payments, normal Africans wouldn’t even notice. Only the functionaries would be hard hit. Which is why they maintain that the world would stop turning without this development aid.

Perhaps the most entertaining part of the interview is the palpable disbelief of the interviewer when confronted a perspective that varies from the standard “Aid is always good, and more is better” perspective so prevalent in developed world.

In September of 2003, Mr. Shikwati wrote an Acton Commentary: “The WTO and the Voice of the Poor”.

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Wednesday, July 6, 2005

One of the free downloads offered today in the iTunes music store (click here to access it via iTunes) is an interview with Jack and Meg White of the White Stripes. They were guests of Terry Gross on Fresh Air on June 9, 2005 and spoke about their new album, Get Behind Me Satan.

Here’s an exchange between Jack and Terry on religion:

TG: …Were you brought up with religion?

JW: Oh yes, heavy duty. But not to the point of speaking in tongues or anything, but it was in the air, for sure. I appreciate it as well, you know. I like looking at life through that at times. I wouldn’t consider myself soft of [trails off…]. I just like being in touch with God. I think that’s sort of important. I think when you’re a creative person in any kind of art form once you finally admit to yourself that you can’t create like God creates, it humbles you and then you can be free to explore the beauty of that creativity. I think when you look at it with God in the picture as well it sort of frees you up, I think.

TG: Do you see your musical abilities as some kind of gift that you are given?

JW: I suppose it’s more of an opportunity to me that a lot of my friends have at being musicians, you know you all have that opportunity and I suppose what you do with it is to me seems to be always out of respect for the people who came before me and of course God who came before everybody. And it’s just the idea that when you look at the creation of the world or the universe or anything like that I mean anything a human being can create seems to just pale in comparison. It feels like you know out of respect you have to be humble about it.

TG: So what church was it that you grew up in?

JW: The Catholic Church. The Roman Catholic Church.

“Fresh Air with Terry Gross, is produced in Philadelphia by WHYY”

In an interview earlier this year, Jack White admitted that his plans to become a priest got sidetracked. “I’d got accepted to the seminary in Wisconsin, and I was gonna become a priest, but the last second I thought, ‘I’ll just go to public school’,” says White.

The reason he didn’t go: “I had just gotten a new amplifier in my bedroom, and I didn’t think I was allowed to take it with me,” he says.

The Acton Institute has announced the honorees for the 2005 Homiletics Award, on the text of James 5:1-6, “The Warning to Rich Oppressors.” In first place ($2,000) is Earl Eckbold, a Master of Divinity student at Lutheran Theological Seminary, Philadelphia. In second ($1,000) is Steven deBoer, a Master of Divinity student at Calvin Theological Seminary. Finishing in third place ($500) is Ken Krause, a Master of Divinity student at Calvin Theological Seminary. Gabe Gilliam, a Master of Divinity and Master of Theology student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Kenneth Gosnell, a Master of Divinity student at Regent University, received honorable mentions.

You can read the manuscripts or listen to the audio of all the entries at the 2005 Homiletics Award page.