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Holy Grail Super-Oven

November 20, 2019

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Brian Cahill, formerly of San Francisco Catholic Charities, excoriates U.S. bishops for their “un-Christlike” obsession with discriminating against LGBTQ folks, particularly in adoption:

… based on a poorly conceived, disrespectful and harshly written Roman policy, San Francisco Catholic Charities and other Catholic Charities agencies around the country — when faced with the choice between working with gay and lesbian adoptive parents or losing their public funding and license — abandoned a hundred-year tradition and thousands of poor and needy children, and ignored the reality that the largest cohort of potential adoptive parents for the most challenging and troubled children in the foster care system are committed same sex couples who want to create family. …

… And church leaders, some of whom have presided over ongoing clergy child abuse scandals and cover-ups, have lost all credibility as teachers regarding human sexuality. Also, the episcopal fixation on same-sex issues is tragic in light of the overwhelming need and obligation for more of our church leaders to advocate Catholic social teaching when it comes to poverty, inequality, racism, immigration and the environment.

Tom Whyman at The Outline explores “secular alternatives to baptism” and ceremonially appointing “godparents.” Reflecting on the baptism of his own son, he writes:

… this was not a community bound together, for the most part, by religion. My half of the family and most of our friends all had basically no prior connection to the Methodist faith, but still, almost all of the people I love most in the world were in that church hall. What had drawn them there was not Christ but simply The Baby — a desire to acknowledge his existence, to welcome him to the world. …

I felt what I suppose one could call a Holy Spirit there: I felt, through others, the possibility of salvation. I saw around me a community, and assembly of people whose interest, in at least this one moment, was bound, not to their own personal, selfish wants but rather to the needs of this new life, to future generations; to the interest in a better life to come. It was into this spirit — this community — that Iggy was being inducted.

Well here’s a thing: The Forward reports on the phenomenon of an all-female, Orthodox Jewish paramedic team and their struggle buy an ambulance, since the Jewish ambulance corps Hatzoloh won’t let women serve as medics:

Ezras Nashim, the female team which serves as emergency medical technicians in Boro Park, Brooklyn, was founded because Orthodox women in that community are often uncomfortable with male medics, even in emergencies. Their religious value of modesty prohibits men and women to touch unless they are husband and wife or close relatives.

At The Week, Shikha Dalmia bemoans India’s “new dark age” under Narendra Modi and Hindu nationalism:

… standing laws pose absolutely no barrier for the ambitions of radical Hindu nationalists under Modi. Consider that in the six months since he’s been re-elected, he has scrapped the constitutionally granted governing autonomy of Muslim-majority of Kashmir. The state’s leaders are still under house arrest. He has also launched an unprecedented drive to strip millions of Muslims in the state of Assam of their citizenship. …

There was a brief moment in the 1990s when it seemed India would liberalize its economy to go along with its liberal polity. The reverse is happening now, and Indian liberals are getting too fatigued to stop it. Authoritarianism is winning all around in India.

After his whatever-that-was with Guy Smiley Joel Osteen, Kanye West went to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office to perform what was esentially a church service for inmates. FFRF complained, though the response is that the concert/sermon was voluntary. Hemant Mehta says:

To suggest that the concert was voluntary is hardly an acceptable excuse here. What were the inmates’ options? Enjoy a Kanye West concert or… stay in your cell? C’mon now. That’s religious coercion by another name.

The school board of Flagler County, Florida wanted to start holding prayers at meetings, but they ended the practice when they realized that the Satanic Temple would demand a spot, and we can’t have that.

In the UK, the Oxford Diocesan Schools have agreed that children can have a secular alternative to morning prayers, after secular parents waged a successful challenge to compulsory worship. The Guardian reports:

Lee and Lizanne Harris said: “We are delighted that the school has backed down and agreed to provide our children with an alternative, inclusive assembly of equal educational worth.

“Ultimately, we took this case to ensure our children receive an inclusive education without the indoctrination of one enforced religion. We believe this isn’t just the right of our children, but all children. The defendant’s reluctance to take this to court in our view shows the growing fragility of this outdated law and those who choose to enforce it.

“This case is hugely significant as it has established that schools have a duty to make inclusive assemblies available to all pupils who want them.”

Steven Novella has some words of wisdom concerning the use of herbal products (really, “drugs,” because, as he says, they are pharmacological) with cancer treatment:

One thing to keep in mind is that when manipulating a complex dynamic homeostatic system, such as the body, in either a healthy or disease state, figuring out the net effects of any intervention is extremely difficult. It takes decades of research by experts thinking very carefully to calibrate the proper balance, and then individualizing that information to each specific patient. While doing this, it is generally not helpful for the patient to be interfering with the whole process by taking poorly regulated products often with unknown ingredients, of highly dubious quality control, and in doses that are essentially anyone’s guess.

… herbal products, especially for things like cancer, are often sold with the myth that they are magically free of the compromises that real medicine faces. They are often claimed to magically target cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone, or “improving” some function when actually they are just pushing a homeostatic system out of balance.

A Bill Gates-backed startup called Heliogen says it has found a way to use artificial intelligence and a whole lot of mirrors to harvest sunlight to make a solar super-oven. CNN reports:

The breakthrough means that, for the first time, concentrated solar energy can be used to create the extreme heat required to make cement, steel, glass and other industrial processes. In other words, carbon-free sunlight can replace fossil fuels in a heavy carbon-emitting corner of the economy that has been untouched by the clean energy revolution.

“We are rolling out technology that can beat the price of fossil fuels and also not make the CO2 emissions,” Bill Gross, Heliogen’s founder and CEO, told CNN Business. “And that’s really the holy grail.”


Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is.

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