Is Snowden a Game Changer?

NSA Flag My probes for precedents to the Snowden NSA leaks inevitably yield references to Daniel Ellsberg’s release of the Pentagon Papers in 1971 and while there are more than a few similarities (someone within the government sharing documents that challenged the official narrative), there are some significant differences that suggest the current controversy is more significant. Continue reading Is Snowden a Game Changer?

Attention Surgery Shoppers

Surgery If you’re an uninsured New Yorker shopping for a hip replacement, the going rate in Manhattan is $18,260. If that sounds steep and you’re willing to try medical tourism, the rate drops to $7,500 in Boston, $7,099 in Baltimore or $6,399 in Washington.

If you’re willing to go further afield, there are seeming bargains available elsewhere including these:

  • Portland, Oregon: $4,366
  • Tampa, Florida: $3,039

Continue reading Attention Surgery Shoppers

The Atheist at the Funeral

Robert Ingersoll Pollsters tell us that 20 percent of Americans today are secularists—that is, they are atheist, agnostic or unaffiliated with a religion. According to author and atheist Susan Jacoby, the reason why secularists don’t wield an influence commensurate with their numbers is their own reluctance to speak out, “particularly at moments of high drama and emotion,” such as the massacre of the schoolchildren in Newtown, Connecticut.

Ms. Jacoby expanded on this theme in an opinion piece published last month in the New York Times. “It is vital,” she said, “to show that there are indeed atheists in foxholes, and wherever else human beings suffer and die.” In particular, she suggested that today’s atheists should emulate Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899), the great 19th Century skeptic and freethinker, who frequently delivered secular eulogies at funerals. Continue reading The Atheist at the Funeral

Emperors’ Clothes

Haiti Good news: December 29 no one was injured as the Central Market in Port-au-Prince burned down. Bad news: the market burned down. January 6, another fire – this one probably from arson – downed the Marché Public de Tabarre, J-B Aristide’s old neighborhood. Is this not misfortune enough? Continue reading Emperors’ Clothes