Weekly Editorials Page
10/11 to 10/17, 2001

Previous Weekly Editorials


Night of 10-16-2001:  Since I didn't get today's Science News uploaded until this afternoon, I'll update tomorrow's pages tomorrow morning.
Later in the day:  Got it fixed.
10-16-2001:   Today, I've been cruelly pressed into service, painting the railings for both the front and back steps, not to mention the garage door and its surrounding trim. In addition, I've been wantonly called into service looking up addresses on the Internet, and performing other Lilliputian tasks. Consequently, I won't be able to update the news until the morrow. Sorry, but Tommie Jean had other plans today for her husband. (Please don't tell her I said this.)
10-15-2001:    I have added a Terrorism  link (above). Unfortunately, this is a subject that's going to be with us for a while.
    Kevin Kearney has sent an Atlantic Monthly article entitled, "
The Roots of Muslim Rage: Why so many Muslims deeply resent the West, and why their bitterness will not easily be mollified." This helpful article adds to other articles with similar messages that try to explain why there is as much general Muslim support for bin Laden as there is.
    I've been tempted for several months to recite here my concerns about major religions and the potential for a resumption of religious wars. This was based upon my observation that certain Protestant churches are attempting to send missions to attempt to proselyte Catholics, and even other Protestants to their respective denominations. Their ministers complain about the ungodliness of the U. S.' constitutional separation of church and state. These ministers don't seem to understand that if that barrier is removed, it won't be their minority church that crowds out all the others.
    The world's major religions are built upon ancient, holy writ that is rooted in dogma, and isn't to be modified. These religions' tenets are timeless, and were dictated by God. Of course, God dictated quite different things to prophets of different faiths.
    Each sect is convinced that it's the only correct faith, and that adherents of rival denominations are at risk of going to hell. And although religions may liberalize at times, and may draw in more of the uncommitted, fundamentalist movements periodically reverse these trends when some of the more conservative elements in the religion sway the guilt-ridden to return to the more-restrictive practices and beliefs of the original sacred writings. Examples of this in Christianity are the Protestant Reformation, followed by the Puritan Movement (including the Cromwellian Interregnum), and then the early days of the Presbytarian church. A recent example of this within Islam is the brief Reformation instituted by the Ayatollah Khomeini. These puritanical interludes haven't generally lasted very long because people haven't wanted to live under them. But while they've lasted, some of the great religious wars of the past have been fought.
    It worries me that large segments of the world's population have entered the 21st century clinging to belief systems formulated several thousand years ago. It would be all right if these true believers were willing to put their money where their mouths are, and restrict themselves to the technologies (and particularly, the military technologies) of those bygone eras. It would be all right if they would agree to place their trust, as a grain of mustard, in God, and allow God to feed, clothe, and cure them in response to their prayers. But instead, we have zealots who arm themselves with the latest weapons, while mindlessly obeying mortmains from the foggy past. This seems to me to be a recipe for disaster.
    I think that the next few weeks will tell us what we can expect from our anthrax attacks. I think there may be more cases of anthrax exposure. Hopefully, these exposures won't escalate into fatalities.
10-12-2001:    In tonight's Science News, I've included links to some Arab news sources. Dr. Eyad El Sarraj' Bombs and Madness.gives a picture of the Arab-Israeli conflict as seen from the Palestinian side.  One fact is indisputable: not everyone in Palestine is happy. (I'm also contaminated with the notion that violence generally begets violence. Peaceful solutions are to be preferred. In his science fiction epic, "Foundation", Isaac Asimov has "Salvor Hardin" say that "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent".)
    The goal ascribed to Osama bin Laden, although his goals are alleged to have escalated over time, is that of founding a pan-Arabic nation in the Middle East. Of course, if he were successful, then once such a state were formed, it would have an existence of its own, and like other human institutions, would evolve over time. The Roman Republic evolved into the Roman Empire. The early Christian church evolved into the church of the Renaissance. The Muslim church progressed from its simple, 7th-century roots to the highest Western civilization of the Middle Ages. If Mr. bin Laden were to succeed, I should think that his creation would soon loosen its corset. Theocracies have been attempted throughout history, and throughout history, they've been replaced by more secular domains.
10-11-2001:    A third case of anthrax exposure, Third case of anthrax in Florida - ABC, has just been announced. The press release mentioned (in contrast with earlier news reports today that stated that 800 in Boca Raton had been tested for anthrax and that all the tests had been negative) that test results are only beginning to come in and that there may be additional positive test resuts in the offing.
    "Health officials said about 770 people who either worked or spent time in the building have been tested, and there were no indications that anyone else was exposed to anthrax. It could be weeks before test results on employees are known, they said "
    The article also mentioned the manner in which American Media tabloids had belittled Osama bin Laden. "The American Media tabloids — which specialize in a mix of stories on celebrity scandal, sex and the fantastic — have published many items belittling the hijackers and Osama bin Laden."

   Biotechnology researchers with the University of Texas have just announced that they may be within weeks of finalizing an antidote for the anthrax toxin -
Researchers Close to Antidote. Another effort at the Harvard Medical School, Chemical Neutralizes Anthrax Toxin - SciNews, is also promising similar results. Of course, these treatments may take years to reach the clinic.