Tuesday, April 5, 2005

Alvin Plantinga

The Washington Times has a story on Alvin Plantinga, one of the most influential of contemporary philosophers and author of what will no doubt come to be regarded a classic work in epistemology and philosophy of religion titled Warranted Christian Belief.

Plantinga, who at 72 still teaches at Notre Dame, has also written a number of other important books and papers and has perhaps done more to change the religious complexion of philosophy departments in American universities than any other living philosopher.

A discipline which was dominated a generation ago by secular materialists is today home to an increasing number of Christians and other theists (see here). It has been a remarkable transformation and Plantinga's influence has been in large measure responsible for it.

China's Plans for Surprise Attack

The Chinese strategy for launching a surprise attack on Taiwan is discussed at The Strategy Page. Some analysts think it's just a matter of time.

The Chinese probably aren't too concerned about our reaction since our economies are so interdependent they probably calculate (correctly) that if they can launch a successful assault on Taiwan before we have a chance to get a carrier battle group to the region that they will have a fait accompli over which we will not be willing to wage all out war.

There will follow grave diplomatic harrumphing, of course, but eventually the imperatives of commerce will cool tempers, and we will grudgingly accept the Chinese takeover (and subsequent executions) of the Taiwanese.

No doubt the biggest concern of the Chinese is whether they would be able to overwhelm Taiwan's defenses swiftly enough to preclude American involvement. This may be quite difficult to accomplish, for reasons discussed at Strategy Page.

It's interesting reading.

The Coming Conservative Crack-Up

Mark Steyn writes a very funny piece on the perennial prognostications of a "conservative crack-up". Here's an excerpt:

Then there's the 59 striped-pants colossi of the Nixon-Ford-Reagan State Department who've sent a letter to the Senate calling on them to reject John Bolton's nomination as U.N. ambassador. According to the Associated Press report, the signatories include:

"Princeton Lyman, ambassador to South Africa and Nigeria under Presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton; Monteagle Stearns, ambassador to Greece and Ivory Coast in the Ford, Carter and Reagan administrations; and Spurgeon Keeny Jr., deputy director of the Arms Control Agency in the Carter administration."

Princeton Lyman? Monteagle Stearns? Spurgeon Keeny Jr.? If Norman Lear's shows had wacky characters like that, they'd still be in syndication. It's a good rule of thumb that anything 59 economists, bureaucrats or diplomats are prepared to sign an open letter objecting to is by definition a good thing. But that goes double when the 59 panjandrums lined up against you are Princeton Monteagle Jr., President Nixon's ambassador to the Spurgeon Islands; Spurgeon Monkfish III, President Ford's ambassador to the Lyman Islands; Dartmouth Monticello IV, President Johnson's personal emissary to His Serene Highness the Monteagle of Keeny; Columbia Long-Playing-Album, the first diplomat to be named by President Carter to the State Department's Name Control Agency; and Vasser Peachy-Keeny, the first woman to be named Vasser Peachy-Keeny. One sees their point, of course: Let a fellow called "John" Bolton become ambassador and next thing you know Earl and Bud will want the gig.

Even Sen. John Danforth, who should know better, got in on the act, taking half a page in the New York Times to give the Full Monteagle to the "religious right." Blog maestro Andrew Sullivan decided that America was witnessing a "conservative crack-up" over Terri Schiavo and the embrace of her cause by extreme right wing fundamentalist theocrat zealots like, er, Jesse Jackson and Ralph Nader. Sullivan was last predicting a "conservative crack-up" during the impeachment era, on the grounds (if I recall correctly) that Republican moralizing would dramatically cut into Strom Thurmond's share of the gay vote. In the '90s, the Weekly Standard ran innumerable special editions devoted to the subject: Conservative Crack-Up; Conservative Crack-Up 2; Conservative Crack-Up -- The Musical; Abbott And Costello Meet The Conservative Crack-Up; Conservative Crack-Up On Elm Street; Four Weddings And A Conservative Crack-Up; Rod Stewart Sings Timeless Favorites From The Great Conservative Crack-Up, etc.

Read the whole thing. It's a hoot.