Visual source: Newseum
Frank Bruni stumbles onto the intriguing idea that New Gingrich might be, just a little, slightly, full of himself.
Marveling over a presidential candidate’s arrogance is like noting that a hockey player wears skates. It states not just the obvious but the necessary. ...
And that’s where Newt Gingrich provokes real concern. You have to take another politician’s ego, double it, and add cheese and a side of fries to get to Gingrich. An especially heaping, unhealthy diet of self-regard slogs through his veins.
I'm not sure you've noticed, Frank, but the total ego mass of the GOP hopefuls this year is a couple of orders of magnitude off, even for political candidates. Really, putting Newt and Cain in the same room was enough to make me worry that whatever pizza-parlor was hosting debate #3142 might collapse into a black hole. The thought of them both being together with Trump surely rates reviving the scale of multicolored threats just so we can move it to whatever shade of orange best describes Donald Trump (I believe we're somewhere between salmon and satin sheen). I feel a bit safer now that they are spread out, but Newt alone still constitutes a greater threat to the planet than the Large Hadron Collider (in just about any way you can imagine). Oh, and somewhere in there Bruni decides that President Obama is arrogant because he's just so darn good at writing, speaking, and thinking. How dare he.
The Washington Post gives Newt their "Good Year in Washington" award.
Halfway through 2011, former House speaker Newt Gingrich looked to be a leading candidate for the "Worst Year in Washington" prize. After taking a three-week Mediterranean cruise and suffering a series of withering questions about various lines of credit he had held at Tiffany & Co., the Georgia Republican watched as nearly his entire presidential campaign staff quit en masse.
Counted out by, well, everyone, Gingrich spent the summer finding sustenance in the many, many debates on the presidential calendar to reenergize his campaign.
I think you left out many manys. Apparently it counts as a good year in Washington if you manage a couple of weeks at the top of the polls in between fits of disaster. Eh, everything's relative, but not even the WP believes Gingrich can actually keep this up without stepping in it. "It" being his own ego.
The Worst Year award went to Congress. Because apparently a larger percentage of Americans would vote for a return of Smallpox than another year like this one. (So why will 90%+ of the same people will be back next year?)
Ross Douthat says that Christopher Hitchen's was "an atheist believers could love."
Intellectually minded Christians, in particular, had a habit of talking about Hitchens as though he were one of them already — a convert in the making, whose furious broadsides against God were just the prelude to an inevitable reconciliation.
In this they were mistaken, but not entirely so. At the very least, Hitchens’s antireligious writings carried a whiff of something absent in many of atheism’s less talented apostles — a hint that he was not so much a disbeliever as a rebel, and that his atheism was mostly a political romantic’s attempt to pick a fight with the biggest Tyrant he could find.
Yeah, I sure smell a "whiff of something," but it's not Hitchen's writing. Let me just express how distasteful I always find these attempts to recast long held and well expressed beliefs when the author is conveniently off stage. In any case, Douthat better hope there's no afterlife, because Hitchens will be kicking his butt through eternity if there is.
The New York Times looks at some second thoughts from the Yellowhammer State.
Alabama’s stance on its extremist immigration law is shifting from defiance to damage control. Gov. Robert Bentley admitted this month that the law needed fixing and promised that he and legislative leaders would do that in next year’s session.
What's becoming clear is that the law is discriminatory and cannot be applied without violating the Constitution, but don't expect Bentley or his AG to fess up to that too quickly.
Joshua Goldstein and Steven Pinker don't exactly say we ain't gonna have no war no more, but do question it's ratings.
The theory that war is becoming passé gained traction in the late 1980s, when scholars noticed some curious nonevents. World War III, a nuclear Armageddon, was once considered inevitable, but didn’t happen. Nor had any wars between great powers occurred since the Korean War. European nations, which for centuries had fought each other at the drop of a hat, had not done so for four decades.
How has the world fared since then? Armed conflict hasn’t vanished, and today anyone with a mobile phone can broadcast the bloodshed. But our impressions of the prevalence of war, stoked by these images, can be misleading. Only objective numbers can identify the trends.
It's hard to believe in vanishing wars considering what we've just come through, and what we're still in. It's also hard to think we'll get through the disruptions resulting from climate change without some serious international fisticuffs. Still, sign me up, Mulder, I want to believe.
Sure, Flordia lawmakers have done enough crazy things this session that they probably should be worried about catching some heat, but it's the thought of catching something else that has them in a panic.
This is an open letter from concerned members of the Florida House of Representatives to the Sergeant of Arms:
We couldn’t help but notice that our colleagues in the Senate were provided with enhanced security measures as a result of our controversial – but patriotic! – decision to allow licensed owners of concealed weapons to carry their loaded guns through the corridors of the Capitol.
What could go wrong?
After all the proposals that we could fix the problem of CO2 in the atmosphere by adding some sulfur to cut down on sunlight, now comes an answer to the little problem of sulfur making the oceans acidic.
Some have suggested a simple solution: large-scale artificial alkalisation using chemicals like quicklime. Richard Zeebe and François Paquay of the University of Hawaii in Honolulu decided to see if this was realistic.
As it turns out, pumping billions of tons of quicklime into the ocean would be a costly mess. Instead of working out what we need to swallow the catch the spider that we are going to swallow to catch the fly, how about we stop swallowing flies?
Besides, if we do end up with acid everywhere, the naked mole rats would take over.
African naked mole rats never cease to amaze. Not only are they exceedingly ugly, but they are the longest living rodents. Moreover, none have ever been observed to get cancer. And they are the only known vertebrates that are not bothered by acid. A report in this week’s Science explains the molecular basis underlying this acid insensitivity, and suggests that it might be an adaptation to their oxygen-poor living conditions
And you thought the future belonged to apes. Rise of the mole rats!