May 19th, 2006

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The DaVinci Code

(And I never knew DaVinci wrote software!)

James Pinkerton offers a sympathetic take on the movie in this article.
Indeed, a book/movie this immersed in Christianity -- or, if you prefer, anti-Christianity -- can't help but get people thinking about Larger Things. It's said that some 45 anti-Code books have been published; does anybody think there would have been that much popular scholarship devoted to origins-of-the-church controversies without Dan Brown's provocation? And what about all those websites, each one a labor of agape?
I will bet that "The Code Controversy" is going to be remembered as a turning point in popular-religious culture. Christians flocked to see "The Passion of the Christ," which changed Hollywood, but then, two years later, they flocked to react to "Code"; they have created their own counter-culture, which will bear faith-fruit long after this particular movie is reduced to third-tier DVD-dom.
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Polar bears

Theo Richel writes on the polar bear population.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has just put the polar bear on the endangered species list because it is supposedly "facing extinction" -- mainly, it claims, as a result of global warming. But statistics show the polar bear is not facing extinction, not by a long shot.

The polar bear biologist cited by the IUCN correctly states the current population of polar bears to be about 22,000-25,000. But when asked for historical data he responds that this number has not changed much in recent decades. He does not mention the fact that half a century ago there were only about 8,000-10,000 polar bears. That low number was not the result of global warming or even cooling but of overhunting. A subsequent regulation of the hunt solved the problem: the polar bear population started to increase again.


In the same week the IUCN came out with the polar bear list, Dr. Mitch Taylor, a polar bear biologist from the Eskimo nation Nunavut (four times as big as France, 30,000 inhabitants) wrote in the Toronto Star: "Of the 13 populations of polar bears in Canada, 11 are stable or increasing in number. They are not going extinct, or even appear to be affected at present. This complexity is why so many people find the truth less entertaining than a good story. It is entirely appropriate to be concerned about climate change, but it is just silly to predict the demise of polar bears in 25 years based on media-assisted hysteria."
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America

(From the May 17, 2006 Wall Street Journal)

America

by Ray Bradbury

We are the land that other people dream
The land where other people land
When late at night
They think on flight
And flying, here arrive
Where we fools dumbly thrive ourselves.

Refuse to see
We be what all the world would like to be.
Because we hive within this scheme
The obvious dream is blind to us.
We do not mind the miracle we are,
So stop our mouths with curses,
While all the world rehearses
Coming here to stay.
We busily make plans to go away.

How dumb! newcomers cry, arrived from Chad.
You're mad! Iraqis shout,
We'd sell our souls if we could be you.
How come you cannot see the way we see you?
You tread a freedom forest as you please.
But, damn! You miss the forest for the trees.
Ten thousand wanderers a week
Engulf your shore,
You wonder what their shouting's for,
And why so glad?

Run warm those souls: America is bad?
Sit down, stare in their faces, see!
You be the hoped-for thing a hopeless world would be.
In tides of immigrants that this year flow
You still remain the beckoning hearth they'd know.
In midnight beds with blueprint, plan and scheme
You are the dream that other people dream.