The pushers strike back

Doctors urged patients to keep taking their anti-depressants Wednesday despite a scientific study showing that the drugs are little more effective than placebos in treating depression. Doctors are warning their patients not to suddenly stop taking the medication prescribed to them…. Louis Appleby, national clinical director for Mental Health, told the Press Association: “New exculpatory whitewashingguidance on the treatment of depression will be issued by Nice [the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence] later in the year, and this new study will be buried under technical jargonconsidered as the excuses areguidance is prepared.

In other news, 10 out of 10 doctors surveyed indicated that they would like to continue to be compensated in return for the service they provide in waving a dead chicken over their patients.

The last Republican giant

Requiescat in Pace, William F. Buckley, Jr. I never met the man, never once spoke with him and was never particularly influenced by him. But believe it or not, when I was signed to a national syndication deal by Universal Press Syndicate, it was with the idea that I was going to be an eventual long-term replacement for WFB, whom they had syndicated for donkey’s years. They liked the fact that I was a forthright right-winger and that my columns were more intellectually demanding than the norm, unfortunately, the editors of the nation’s newspapers very much disagreed. But I always felt a sense of personal appreciation for WFB Jr, as I never would have been given that opportunity to fail so spectacularly were it not for him blazing a trail with his labyrinthine sentence structures, heteroclitic vocabularies and the occasional foreign bon mot thrown in for good measure.

I read his National Review all through college and still retain an affinity for it even though I regard a good fifty percent of the writers – and most of the current editors – as traitors to the cause of thwarting history. Love him or loathe him, Buckley was a unique individual and his absence will leave a hole in the American political scene for some time to come.

Update – Ramesh Ponnuru quotes Republican House Leader John Boehner:

As long as America honors the ideals of our Founding Fathers – free speech, freedom of religion, and limited, Constitutional government – his legacy will be cherished.”

An ironic elegy, considering the source. As far as the Republican leadership is concerned, Buckley’s legacy should rival the long shadow cast by Nick Saban in Miami.

Contrarian confidence

Hillary must be a lock to win if Lopez is so sure she’s lost already:

There’s no way she’s winning Tuesday. And I say that with regret, because I think I rather a President Clinton than a President Obama if I have to have one or the other.

You’ll note that most of the professional pundits are pronouncing the death of the Rodham-Clinton campaign. You’ll also note that I am not.

No need to cherry pick

Like one of his religious opposites who’d never read them, J.J. Ramsey finds it difficult to believe that I didn’t cherry pick the easiest New Atheist arguments:

I took a read of Vox Day’s book, and some of it I skimmed or skipped. I’d say that his book is a good example of what happens when advocates for atheism get lazy. I’m not impressed by Day, and I am especially suspicious that he has cherry-picked or otherwise played with data when comparing crime rates of red (Republican) counties to blue (Democratic) counties. However, he legitimately jumped on dodgy arguments from atheists, such as the questionable connection between religion and war, and Dawkins’ shaky Ultimate 747 argument. In general, I’d say that the strength of his book is inversely related to the strength of his opposition.

Apparently, JJR finds it hard to believe Sam Harris, and by extension, Richard Dawkins, could have gotten it so wrong with the ridiculous Red State argument about the immorality of the religious faithful. But all the relevant data is right there on the CNN and FBI websites, there’s no need to trust me on any of it. JJR’s general conclusion is correct, he just clearly doesn’t understand the extent to which it is true.

It’s partly amusing and partly frustrating that on the one hand, you’ve got a lot of atheists bleating that there’s no way TIA could possibly refute the bestest minds of the brights so it must be nothing but strawman construction, while on the other, a minority of atheists who have actually read the book are saying that while I did successfully refute the arguments I attacked in the book, I must have avoided the really strong ones. But I attacked every major argument made in those books, as well as a dozens of minor ones, so I have no idea where these brilliant arguments that Dawkins, Harris and company have made are supposed to be found, because they certainly aren’t found anywhere in their books.

On a tangential note, don’t get too impressed by the Professor, Brent. I’ll show you how his points are spurious, to the extent they’re even relevant at all, once he finishes. In fact, he’ll discover himself how most of his points are incorrect once he reads a little farther. As to the slavery question, the fact that thousands of women are being trafficked to and from the civilized world is conclusive proof that the moral question has not been settled. I have no problem with constructing a moral argument for sex slavery on the basis of Sam Harris’s own happiness/suffering metric, needless to say, others have found their own moral justifications. The anonymous questioner is, like Harris himself, confusing legality with morality. The two are not unrelated, but they are by no means identical.

Is it just me

Or is Kylie Minogue’s “Wow” the most eighties song recorded since the 1980s actually ended? I quite like it, actually, and I imagine we’re going to hear rather a lot of that vocal effect in the near future.

How can one be too materialistic

If the material is all there is?

A survey by GfK NOP for the Children’s Society showed that out of the 1,225 adults questioned, 89 percent felt that children are more materialistic now than in previous generations. Evidence submitted to the inquiry from children themselves suggests that they do feel under pressure to keep up with the latest trends, the society added.

The poll is part of a larger inquiry into childhood and includes evidence by professionals and members of the public on issues such as lifestyle, learning, friends and family.

Professor of child psychology Philip Graham — who is leading the inquirys lifestyle theme — believes that commercial pressures may have “worrying psychological effects” on children.

“One factor that may be leading to rising mental health problems is the increasing degree to which children and young people are preoccupied with possessions; the latest in fashionable clothes and electronic equipment. “Evidence both from the United States and from the UK suggests that those most influenced by commercial pressures also show higher rates of mental health problems,” he said.

To me, it’s empirically obvious that those who believe they exist solely in the material are far more prone to mental health issues. There is a historical basis for the “mad scientist” stereotype after all. This is why I wholeheartedly concur with Daniel Dennett and endorse a scientific examination of both religion and secular materialism. I don’t think it’s religion that has much to fear from such an investigation.

On a completely anecdotal level, how many of you here are religious and have ever been diagnosed with a mental health issue? How many are not religious and have been so diagnosed? If you wish to remain anonymous, just don’t type your name in, as I’m not interested in knowing who’s crazy and who’s not. Let’s face it, I already have a fair amount of data on that.

The importance of faith

If you don’t mind my taking the gaming motif one speculative step further, bear with me for a moment. I haven’t been in the battlegrounds much over the last few days, partly because I was occupied with the aforementioned Imaginary Property work, but also because I found myself completely drained by a particularly heated battle the other day.

It took them much longer than I expected, but the Horde finally found themselves a leader capable of counteracting the basic strategy that the Finnish leader and I had refined between us. The mindless warriors of the Alliance had gotten accustomed to following that strategy, which was admittedly quite effective, but once a strategy becomes predictable it is much easier to work out tactics to blunt that effectiveness even if you don’t have a counter-strategy. When I popped in late the other day, I was surprised to see that we were losing by about 100 casualties, one of our towers had been burned and we had given up both graveyards in the middle in return for one graveyard in the south.

It was clear that the Alliance was not only handicapped by a silent Battleground Leader, but further disadvantaged because the Horde appeared to have a pretty good one for once. Things were getting increasingly desperate when the loss of the graveyards put Icewing under obvious threat and the idiots got too enthusiastic about pushing south from Iceblood and lost that as well. Just then, the leader chose that moment to succumb to demands from a few experienced Alterac vets and make me leader. I really didn’t know what to do, since strategy is much more my thing than tactics, (the Finnish guy is an amazing tactician, if all the Finns are like him it’s no wonder the Soviets had so much trouble with them in the last century), and I hadn’t even looked at the map before Icewing was being taken by the Horde with little prospect of us getting it back thanks to our loss of the two nearby graveyards. Three, if you count Iceblood.

I figured the best thing to do was to try to stabilize the situation and staunch the bleeding, so I ordered everyone in the north to stop trying to take back Stonehearth or Icewing, where they could do nothing but rack up casualties at a rapid rate, and instead defend the chokepoint at Stormpike. I told everyone that we could draw it out and make them pay for the victory, but I really didn’t see any way that we could win at this point since we were so far behind and the Horde obviously had a pretty good leader. I was completely resigned to losing, when one of the vets replied “yeah, well, so do we.”

I don’t know how, precisely, but that small expression of confidence in my leadership was like a shot of pure inspiration. They were pressing us so hard and were so far ahead that I realized they weren’t likely to worry much about defending. So, I put together a stealth team of two rogues and a druid and sent them south to Frostwolf, while ordering everyone still battling around Iceblood and the nearby towers to fall back and take Snowfall from behind so that we could at least try to keep Balinda alive. Meanwhile, Icewing burned and the outnumbered northern forces were driven back from Stormpike, which quickly put the Dun Baldur towers under threat since we could not hold the bridge.

Fortunately, the Horde leader only sent two defenders south, both of whom were dispatched by the stealth team, and the two Frostwolf towers burned. Snowfall helped us keep Balinda alive, and the Horde finally quit trying to kill her in favor of overwhelming us at Dun Baldur, the two towers of which were constantly changing hands. The stealth crew in the south managed to take the Frostwolf Relief Hut, so suddenly it became apparent that if we could burn the Hut and kill Galv before one of the Dun Baldur towers burned, we would win. I ordered everyone from Snowfall to Galv even as the Horde took the southern DB tower, but it was clear from the timer that there was no way we could do either before the Horde burned the crucial tower. I led three charges, but we were outnumbered and simply couldn’t beat our way through… but the attacks provided enough of a distraction that one of our southern roguestars – who’d taken the initiative to recall once it became clear that the Horde was letting the Frostwolf hut go – slipped in behind their defense and took the tower back with less than five seconds to spare.

Not ten seconds later, the relief hut burned. Not a heartbeat after that, the very welcome words GALV IS DOWN! appeared, followed by the crashing piano sound and the announcement that the Alliance had won the victory in Alterac Valley. One fighter summmed it up for everyone: “How the #@$! did we do that?”

The answer, I think, is that faith flows both ways. The follower’s faith in the leader may be just as important to the leader as it is to the follower. Now, God does not literally need our faith to sustain Him any more than I literally needed to know that my warriors had confidence in my abilities in order to give them direction, and yet it’s not hard to understand how He might desire that faith, and perhaps even find motivation in it, all the same. Our faith in God sustains and inspires us, but who is to say that it does not also sustain or inspire Him in some manner? According to Scripture, it seems that He at least finds our faith to be something to be desired.

Perhaps the more rational conclusion is that I simply spend way too much time inhabiting imaginary worlds. Of course, I don’t see any reason why I shouldn’t when a fair amount of what passes for my work in the nominally real one is every bit as imaginary.