Links and Comments: Oliver Sacks; A Pious American against Trains; Offending Religion

Another link-dump, for now, i.e. some links and quick comments, without the more considered comments I might do under normal circumstances… after another busy week of moving-in and unpacking.

The great author Oliver Sacks has this moving NYT op-ed about how he deals with the fact that he has terminal cancer, without resort to fantasies of heaven’s eternal reward.

I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.

Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.


In every era there are people who welcome change and advance, and those who resist it (usually on religious grounds). He’s a precious example: In 1830, One Pious American Railed Against Trains and Their Breakneck 20-MPH Speeds

I go for beasts of burthen [sic]: it is more primitive and scriptural, and suits a moral and religious people better.


A few commentators are willing to call a spade and spade, inlcuding Jeffrey Tayler at The Atlantic and Salon:

We must offend religion more: Islam, Christianity and our tolerance for ancient myths, harmful ideas.

Not in this piece, but somewhere else that I read: the reason you publish cartoons offensive to Muslims is because if you don’t, you are *submitting* to their fundamentalist worldview. Fundamentalist Muslims do not have license to control what everyone else finds humorous or offensive. No one should be forced to submit to anyone else’s worldview. Live your own lives however you want to, but don’t force others to submit to yours.

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