At its root, Islam is as much a Western religion as are Judaism and Christianity, having emerged from the same geographic and cultural milieu as its predecessors. For centuries we lived at a more or less comfortable distance from one another. Post-colonialism and economic globalization, and the strategic concerns that attended them, have drawn us into an ever-tighter web of inter-relations.
Describing the very ‘beginning’ of the Universe is a bit of a problem. Quite simply, none of our scientific theories are up to the task. We attempt to understand the evolution of space and time and all the mass and energy within it by applying Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity. This theory works extraordinarily well. But when we’re dealing with objects that start to approach the infinitesimally small – elementary particles such as quarks and electrons – we need to reach for a completely different structure, called quantum theory.
When horses were a common means of transportation, horseshit was as common as potholes are today. While actual horse feces is rare nowadays, horseshit is as common as ever in our vocabulary.The list of synonyms and euphemisms—such as horsefeathers, horse hockey, horse hooey, horse pucky, and horse apples—is huge, taking up many pages in the Dictionary of American Regional English, Green’s Dictionary of Slang, and the Historical Dictionary of American Slang.
Policing patriotism at the concert hall is a time-honored tradition. One of the latest targets is the Fort Worth Symphony, which has endured public criticism for performing The Star-Spangled Banner regularly before its concerts. One fed-up critic, Scott Cantrell, recently urged all American orchestras to abandon the practice because a concert should “transport” listeners to “another world” away from “narrow nationalism.”
The Economist has recently popularised the notion that patents are bad for innovation. Is this right? In my view, this assessment results from too high an expectation of what should be achieved by patents or other intellectual property. Critics of intellectual property rights seem to think that they should be tested by whether they actually increase creativity.
There was much more to Max Planck than his work and research as an influential physicist. For example, Planck was an avid musician, and endured many personal hardships under the Nazi regime in his home country of Germany.
Feminism and Islam are rarely considered to be complimentary to each other or even capable of coexisting. A mere cursory glance of any major media outlet and one can find endless articles, newscasts, and videos of radical Islam waging war against the West and systematically oppressing women. The image of the veiled Muslim woman has become emblematic of the patriarchal control Islam seems to yield unrelentingly over female followers of the faith.
Why adapt Zola? What’s he got to say to us today? If the novels are so good why not leave them as they are – as novels – and forget it?
It has become topical to say that the International Criminal Court (ICC) is in crisis. For some, the ICC has stepped from crisis to crisis. Even before its existence, the Court has been for criticized for its selectivity, statutory limitations, and potential overreach. The ICC faces serious challenges in relation to credibility, legitimacy and expectations. I would like revisit some of these critiques. Looking back at the past decade, it seems that both the work of the ICC, and some of its criticisms, deserve further scrutiny.
Wine ‘made in China’ has gained increased attention around world in recent years. Splitting my time as I do between Europe and China, I have the opportunity to assess the health and potential of the Chinese market with a good degree of objectivity.
Few can deny the sheer significance of religious belief to human society, a topic of study that has provided much insight into how we lived previously, how we live today, and how we will live in the future. However, for what purpose, exactly, did religion originate?
What value does the story of Henry George, a self-taught economist from the late nineteenth century, hold for Americans living in the early 21st century? Quite a lot, if we stop to consider the ways in which contemporary American society has come to resemble America in the late-nineteenth century, a period popularly known as the Gilded Age. As in our times, that era was marked by a dramatic increase in income inequality. It also witnessed a sharp and disturbing rise in the numbers of Americans living in poverty, even as Wall Street boomed and overall productivity soared.
On his recent trip to the United States, Pope Francis made an appeal for caring before a joint meeting of Congress: “A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk, is always based on care for the people.” At various points on his trip the Pope expressed concern for poverty, immigration, incarceration, and capital punishment. He was clearly suggesting that the United States could do so much more to care for its citizens and the world’s citizens.
When the US Army took the Saxon city of Leipzig in April 1945, a gruelling scene was revealed inside the town hall. The Nazi treasurer of the city, his wife, and his daughter had all committed suicide. But these suicides were not isolated cases. In the spring of 1945, Nazi Germany went to its end in an unprecedented wave of suicides.
Should we eat animals? Vegetarians often say “No, because the meat industry harms animals greatly.” They point to the appalling conditions in which animals are raised in factory farms, and the manner in which they are killed. Meat-eaters often reply that this objection is ill-founded because animals owe their very existence to the meat industry.
Health care reform in the United States has promoted policies and practices that are evidence-based. Prevention, diagnoses, and treatment decisions are to be guided by the best available empirical evidence. Decisions about what treatments are to be provided are to be informed by findings of randomized, controlled, research studies when such evidence is available.