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  • Intelligence Squared debate: Catholics humiliated by Christopher Hitchens and Stephen Fry
    I have just witnessed a rout – tonight’s Intelligence Squared debate. It considered the motion “The Catholic Church is a force for good in the world”. Christopher Hitchens and Stephen Fry, opposing the motion, comprehensively trounced Archbishop Onaiyekan (of Abuja, Nigeria) and Ann Widdecombe, who spoke for it. The archbishop in particular was hopeless.

    The voting gives a good idea of how it went. Before the debate, for the motion: 678. Against: 1102. Don’t know: 346. This is how it changed after the debate. For: 268. Against: 1876. Don’t know: 34. In other words, after hearing the speakers, the number of people in the audience who opposed the motion increased by 774. My friend Simon, who’s a season ticket holder, said it was the most decisive swing against a motion that he could remember.

  • jesusandmo.jpg

  • Charedi women refuse bus gender segragation

    And you thought it was only Muslims.

  • Regulators close Otsego bank that espoused workplace prayer
    Chuck Ripka, one of the bank's founders, once told the Star Tribune that God spoke to him and said, "Chuck, if you pastor the bank, I'll take care of the bottom line." Ripka and his staff would pray with customers in the bank's Otsego branch and even at the drive-up window. In a 2004 New York Times story, Ripka said he occasionally slipped up and said, "Come on over to the church -- I mean the bank."

    tip to Brad

  • Faith No More
    What I've learned from debating religious people around the world.
    By Christopher Hitchens



does anyone have a link to a video of that episode of Intelligence Squared?

Re Christopher Hitchens - as a pedant I find it very difficult to take onboard how someone with the intellect, education and birthright (he was born in the same town as myself) of the man would ever use the phrase in the heading " debating religious people around the world.". As evidence of this, later in the article, he correctly states "Ever since I invited any champion of faith to debate WITH me ..." One has to debate ABOUT something WITH someone, so it would seem that some sub-editor has either invented or mangled the heading or Hitchens has become seduced by the slapdash American usage since becoming a citizen. I cannot believe that the latter is the case.

Hitchens has become seduced by the slapdash American usage since becoming a citizen. I cannot believe that the latter is the case.

believe it. i can't be bothered to locate the link but i've actually seen him discussing this on video, and he's aware of it. he has an american wife and daughter and has lived i l.a. (i think) for something like 16 years. los angeles, as you may know, is at the cutting edge of the deconstruction of the english language. :)

btw i don't know if "slapdash" is fair or not as a description of american english usage. but everyone agrees (including you i presume) that, at this point in "linguistic history", american and british english are simply two different things. to "debate someone" is completely acceptable usage in america, as far as i know.

i often hear americans refer to "debating somone ON [the issue of..]" and it's grating to my ear, too, but commonly accepted even by the educated.

in fact (i blush) i used that formulation myself at a recent thread here and i guess you didn't catch it:

willing to stand up and debate me on this point.

Thanks for all of that, Jonathan.

I am getting (to some extent) LESS angry about some things in my old age, but the 'debate' usage always gets my goat!.

As I recall I've been called on it more than once. I may even purge myself of the nasty habit before I die.

I will debate you on "common usage". We are no strangers to it in the Spanish language, and even more so than you guys since Spanish has an "official" rule-making institution, called the Real Academia Española. Fuddy duddies all around the Spanish speaking countries get all flustered when they see "common usage" expressions even being accepted by conservative RAE.

But, as that jazz guy whose name escapes me said about music, you have to learn all the rules then forget about them. Novelists do this to great extent, and many of them and other "language-people" have harsh criticism for the RAE and their self-entitlement.

i think "that jazz guy" was either coltrane or charlie parker, and it's one of the best and pithiest pieces of advice i've ever heard. i live by that shit.

but people tend to forget the first part, about learning the rules, and this leads to problems.

hmm, how do i make this about the jews- i know:

a potential convert with a chip on his shoulder comes to rabbi hillel and says "teach me the whole torah on one foot".

hillel (presumably on one foot) says " that which is distastful to you do not do to others. now go and study".

it's the second part that people tend to forget.

jesus totally ripped that off, turned it around and yes, deleted the second part to form the famous "golden rule".

there is some evidence (not conclusive) that he was a student of hillel's.

Evidence? As far I have heard there really is no evidence that Jesus even existed.

Really looking how much of his story is copied from other gods of the day, there really is evidence that he didn't exist.


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