Bishops Against Death Penalty

The US Bishops have issued a statement calling for an end to the use of the death penalty, part of their larger campaign to end the death penalty. I’m sympathetic to the thrust of the statement and to many of its claims. Continue Reading...

Faith in Science

To expand the “scientist” as “priest” metaphor a bit, you may find it interesting to read what Herman Bavinck has to say on the fundamental place of “faith” with respect to all kinds of knowledge, including not only religious but also scientific: Believing in general is a very common way in which people gain knowledge and certainty. Continue Reading...

The Fair-Trade Fallacy

Let me quickly respond to this week’s Acton Commentary: While I agree in broad strokes with Dr. Larrivee’s analysis of the questionable assumptions of the fair trade movement, with respect to coffee in particular, I don’t agree that the problem is “low productivity in the countries in which farmers live.” I have previously argued that the source of the issue is in fact too much coffee, so that the market is saturated and cannot sustain high prices given the declining worldwide demand. Continue Reading...

Run, Don’t Walk

Among the ways the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) is going about attempting to raise public awareness of hunger issues is the use of “celebrity” athelete spokesmen. Paul Tergat, who won this year’s New York City Marathon, was a recipient of WFP aid when he was growing up in Kenya. Continue Reading...

Woe un2mnkind!

Dante seems upset about being reduced to a text message. A British mobile phone company has hired a professor of literature to write up short quotations from various masterpieces. The goal is to help make “great literature more accessible” by offering short, truncated, text messages to students via cell phones. Continue Reading...

Lime Green Trickle Down Machine

At the the UN net summit in Tunis, MIT’s Nicholas Negroponte has showcased his hundred dollar computer. The small, durable, lime colored, rubber-encased laptop is powered by a handcrank, and is designed to make technology more accessible to poor children in countries around the world. Continue Reading...

The Priestly Voice of Science

Thomas Lessl, Associate Professor in the Department of Speech Communication at the University of Georgia, talks about the “priestly voice” of science. He argues that “scientific culture has responded to the pressures of patronage by trying to construct a priestly ethos — by suggesting that it is the singular mediator of knowledge, or at least of whatever knowledge has real value, and should therefore enjoy a commensurate authority. Continue Reading...

Why Not Fair-Trade Beer and Cakes?

Economist John Larrivee looks at the logic underlying the fair trade coffee movement and applies it to beer and baked goods. It doesn’t quite make sense. Larrivee points out that “the question is not the difference between what different parties to the production get paid, but rather who adds value, how much, and where.” Read the full commentary here. Continue Reading...

It’s Called Tithing

The church thought of this first, but better late than never, I suppose: 10 over 100 is an effort to encourage people who make over $100,000 per year to donate 10% to charity. Continue Reading...

Yes, ICANN (No, You Can’t)

The AP reports that a deal has been struck to continue primary management of the Internet by the United States, following weeks and months of controversy. The EU had been pushing for control of the web to be turned over to a supra-national body, such as the UN. Continue Reading...