Journalism after Snowden

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Emily Bell’s interview with Edward Snowden.

Alan Rusbridger: “Life after Snowden: Journalists’ new moral responsibility.

Clay Shirky: “The value of digital data

Jill Abramson on putting the public interest first: Defying the White House, from the Pentagon Papers to Snowden

PLUS: Jonathan Peters examines the ethical and legal case of the media publishing on the hacked DNC emails in “Putin, Politics, and the Press.”

Your Smart TV is spying on you!


Hitler and the American Indians

{This was posted by Bob a couple of years ago, but it speaks to today also.}

What?? Hitler and the American Indians? Have you lost your mind?

Adolf Hitler in Yugoslavia.

Adolf Hitler in Yugoslavia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What connection could there be? Well, dear reader . . . According to James Pool’s Hitler and His Secret Partners:

“Hitler drew another example of mass murder from American history. Since his youth he had been obsessed with the Wild West stories of Karl May. He viewed the fighting between cowboys and Indians in racial terms. In many of his speeches he referred with admiration to the victory of the white race in settling the American continent and driving out the inferior peoples, the Indians. With great fascination he listened to stories, which some of his associates who had been in America told him about the massacres of the Indians by the U.S. Cavalry.

He was very interested in the way the Indian population had rapidly declined due to epidemics and starvation when the United States government forced them to live on the reservations. He thought the American government’s forced migrations of the Indians over great distances to barren reservation land was a deliberate policy of extermination. Just how much Hitler took from the American example of the destruction of the Indian nations is hard to say; however, frightening parallels can be drawn. For some time Hitler considered deporting the Jews to a large ‘reservation’ in the Lubin area where their numbers would be reduced through starvation and disease.” (pp. 273-274)

Have you ever heard of the Sand Creek Massacre?

The Sand Creek Massacre summary: On November 29, 1864, seven hundred members of the Colorado Territory militia embarked on an attack of Cheyenne and Arapaho Indian villages. The militia was led by U.S. Army Col. John Chivington, a Methodist preacher, as well as a freemason. After a night of heavy drinking by the soldiers, Chivington ordered the massacre of the Indians. Over two-thirds of the slaughtered and maimed were women and children. This atrocity has been known as the Sand Creek Massacre ever since.  [Source]

Colonel John Milton Chivington, United States Army

Colonel John Milton Chivington, United States Army (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Read the US Congressional testimony concerning the “battle” here. We visited the site of the massacre several years ago on a research trip to Colorado. I still remember walking on the sandy ground next to the creek, seeing in my mind’s eye the children running and hiding only to be run down and killed by the “soldiers” on horse back. I remember telling my wife that I could “hear” the screams of children and their mothers as they were slaughtered. (Two years later I learned that the site we visited had been determined by historians not to be the actual site. Later evidence placed the actual site a few miles away. So much for my empathetic “hearing”.) 3:AM magazine has a piece by Alan Gilbert at Denver University titled “Amnesia: Spain, Sand Creek, Oklahoma, Germany” which is available here. It seems useful from time to time to consider our history. maybe even learn from it.

SS: Islam and Islamophobia

English: Sam Harris

English: Sam Harris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nederlands: Afbeelding van een (voormalig) lid...

Nederlands: Afbeelding van een (voormalig) lid van de VVD (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Title: ISLAM and the future of tolerance
Author: Sam Harris and Maajud Nawaz
Publisher: Harvard University Press, 2016
Review by Bob Lane

This book is an important and exciting contribution to the discussion of religion in general, Islam in particular, the future of civilization, and intelligent respectful debate. The discussion began with a meeting of the two contributors at a debate in 2010 (The Intelligence Squared Debate) in which Nawaz debated Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Douglas Murray. At a dinner party following the debate Harris, when prompted by Ayaan, directs a long critical comment to Nawaz which challenges him to clarify his position: “You seem obliged to pretend that the doctrine [Islam] is something other that it is -for instance, you must pretend that jihad is just an inner spiritual struggle, whereas it’s primarily a doctrine of holy war. I’d like to know whether this is, in fact, he situation as you see it. Is the path forward a matter of pretending certain things are true long enough and hard enough so as to make them true?”

Those kinds of tough questions are what make Sam Harris an important voice in the ongoing discussion of atheism and religion. Harris is tough minded. From that dinner debate comes the book: an intelligent and open, respectful discussion of the terrible problems facing us in the 21st century. Maajid Nawaz states his goal, “what I seek to do is build a mainstream coalition of people who are singing from the same page.” Muslims and non-Muslims can, he opines, be united by “a set of religion-neutral values . . . the universality of human, democratic, and secular … values” which will allow us to arrive at common ground.

[Published here.]

Continue reading


Autumn 1986 Number 77 (Vol 19 No.3)


By Bob Lane

It might be useful to consider the questions of political theory, and the language used in the answers offered over the centuries. “How can we explain why it is that the great majority of people seem to voluntarily accept their inequality?” is the central or crucial question in the field of political theory. This question, as Hume noted, comes from the observation that, in fact, it is so easy for the few to rule over the many.

Why is this the case?

Sometimes the answer is offered that we have an obligation to obey the State. What is the nature of this obligation? Where does it come from? Can we reduce all political obligation to the application of a formula?

As Thomas McPherson puts it in his book Political Obligation: “The philosopher’s interest in political obligation has been mainly in the problem of the grounds of political obligation — that is, in the questions: “Why ought we to obey the government?”(p. 4) And, if we cannot find a ground in political obligation then we have anarchy.

First, notice the difference between:

(1) Why ought we obey the government? and

(2) Why do we obey the government?

. . .

Read more? Oh, yes, please!!

The colour of philosophy

Diagram of the gown, hood and bonnet used in g...

Diagram of the gown, hood and bonnet used in graduation/presentation ceremonies of Ph.D’s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Academic philosophy in the United States has a diversity problem.

No other discipline of comparable size in the humanities is as gender-skewed as philosophy. Women still receive only about 28% of philosophy PhDs in the United States, and are still only about 20% of full professors of philosophy — numbers that have hardly budged since the 1990s. And among U.S. citizens and permanent residents receiving philosophy PhDs in this country, 86% are non-Hispanic white. The only comparably-sized disciplines that are more white are the ones that explicitly focus on the European tradition, such as English literature.


“Being good at seeming smart is perhaps the central disciplinary skill for philosophers. [!]”

Sunday’s Sermon

Typological groups according to the Pew Resear...

Typological groups according to the Pew Research Center. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thanks to Pew Research Center’s steadfast examination of key issues of American politics and science, a rather handy road map to a range of topics is available. In case you missed Pew’s mid-year summary of relevant findings, now might be a good time to ponder the general public’s views on science-related topics, along with the extent to which people’s knowledge about science connects to their views.

While examining patterns underlying perspectives of science itself, the Pew study explores the degree to which political views, educational attainment, religion and demographic factors are connected to science-associated views. Chapters focus on these arenas: 1) climate change and energy; 2) support for government funding; 3) evolution and perceptions of scientific consensus; 4) opinions in the biomedical arena; 5) food and food safety; 6) use of animals in research; and 7) space program issues.

Results show increased alignment between ideological orientation and political party leanings.

English: Conflict Resolution in Human Evolution

English: Conflict Resolution in Human Evolution (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On a handful of science topics, religion comes to the fore. For example, religious differences play a role in beliefs about whether human evolution occurred through natural processes, and perceptions of scientific consensus related to evolution or the creation of the universe), but its role is not central in people’s beliefs about a range of other science topics (e.g., excepting some in the realm of biomedical issues).

Sunday’s Sermon













As Japan marks the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings by the United States, it’s well worth returning to the seminal article that laid the horrors of nuclear warfare before the world. John Hersey’s meticulous recreation of the moment the bomb hit Hiroshima, and his intertwined tales of victims,survivors and a shaken country, holds up 69 years after it was published.

Read it here.


Note from old friend, Randal:

Coach Bob,

For your amusement—I sent this to some other friends yesterday.

Eleven armed bounty hunters in Arizona broke in and tried to arrest a 6′-3″ black man last night.
Problem is—the house is owned by a 5′-10″, white man, AND the Chief of Police!
But that doesn’t stop them, and THEY must be arrested themselves!

Apparently bounty hunters aren’t trained or regulated in Arizona, so ANYBODY who wants to carry a gun and go after people can do it. Really?

AND, the tip they were following came from Facebook, not from a reliable source like a warrant or subpoena!  – Source.

Oh, and speaking of the voting public, did you know that 34% of movie goers polled want armed guards posted in theatres!? – Source

Judging from the way the Police AND the Perps are shooting everyone down, perhaps no one should carry guns? Or everyone should carry guns? One thing is certain, our chances of getting caught in weird crossfire are increasing.