Thursday, May 07, 2009

Thursday Theater

A reminder of sunnier and simpler times on this dismal Thursday morning, to serve as a backdrop for stories making entrances and exits in the spotlight of online news.

Charity: Provocative article on how the worlds of Christianity and socialism are built from different principles.

“Bertrand Russell, who, when asked why he did not give to charity, replied: ‘I’m afraid you’ve got it all wrong. We are Socialists. We don’t pretend to be Christians.’” Needless to say, that witty retort contains a whole theology and a philosophy that deserve to be spelled out. The logic of classic socialism makes Christianity not only superfluous—everyone has everything by rights—but impossible—no one has anything to give.

Russell is right, of course. In a socialist world, no charity can exist because there can be no need that is unfulfilled by the commonality’s duty. It is a world in which there can be no gratitude. I can thank someone for giving me what is really his. I cannot thank him for giving me what is by rights already mine. And if everything belongs to the community, how can I give it away? Or if I do give it away, how can it be anything but stealing from the commons on my part and receiving illicit booty on the receiver’s part?

Absurdity: Walter Williams latest column, "Fraud In Academia", is even more depressing than usual.

At Brown University, two-thirds of all letter grades given are A's. At Harvard, 50 percent of all grades were either A or A- (up from 22 percent in 1966); 91 percent of seniors graduated with honors. The Boston Globe called Harvard's grading practices "the laughing stock of the Ivy League." Eighty percent of the grades given at the University of Illinois are A's and B's. Fifty percent of students at Columbia University are on the Dean's list. At Stanford University, where F grades used to be banned, only 6 percent of student grades were as low as a C. ...

A recent survey of more than 30,000 first-year students revealed that nearly half spent more hours drinking than study. Another survey found that a third of students expected B's just for attending class, and 40 percent said they deserved a B for completing the assigned reading.

Redress: An update on the UK government's ingratitude towards its Gurkha veterans, which we've previously blogged about here and here. Actress Joanna Lumley, whose father fought alongside the Gurkhas in WWII, justifies my teenage crush on her in The New Avengers by steadfastly pushing the Gurkhas' residence rights in a private meeting with Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

"The meeting was extremely positive. He is wholly supportive of the Gurkha cause. He is going to come up with a new solution by the end of this month," Ms Lumley said.

The argument boils down to two sides. One: the Gurkhas should be allowed to live in the country they fought for. The other: We never promised you a rose garden.

Agony: Trial, or circus? Ajmal Amir Kasab, the Pakistani jihadist captured after the 26/11 murder rampage in Mumbai, India, that left 166 people dead last year, has been charged with waging war on India, along with over 80 other charges. His plea: not guilty (!). The start of the trial has been delayed due to Kasab's lawyer's insistence that the youthful terrorist should really be tried in juvenile court (!). This prompted the need to first establish through blood tests whether or not Ajmal Amir Kasab was a minor at the time of his terrorist acts. The verdict: he wasn't. Now Kasab is demanding perfume to sanitize the smell of his prison cell as well as the return of the blood money that was taken from him when he was captured. His "mental balance" also requires that he be allowed to go for an occasional stroll outside on nice days to relieve the stress of living in solitary confinement.

Tragedy: An 11-year old boy fell into the Potomac River while fishing, and was carried away by the strong current. His dad dove in to pull him to shore, but the river pulled the kid right out of his father's hands.

He looked back as the river carried him downstream and the distance between father and son grew. "I saw him two more times," he said. "Then he went under."

Nine long days later, the missing body has been found.

Sadly, there's more to the story. It was later discovered that Hau Nguyen, a fellow fisherman who happened to witness the event, dove in and risked his life to save the boy as well, but unlike the father, he was not able to escape the river. The body of the Good Samaritan was found Saturday, a tragedy that united both families in grief: [Hat Tip to Ann at Catholic Herald]

The incident has brought together two families -- one from Vietnam, one from Mexico. For much of last week, as police boats, helicopters and recovery dogs swept the river, groups of Hispanic construction workers, Vietnamese monks and the family and friends of both victims came to search the muddy banks and pray at the spot where the two had disappeared.

Nguyen's wife and Thanh Vo, her brother, said Nguyen was a strong swimmer who had grown up along a river in Vietnam and had jumped into the Chesapeake Bay to rescue a friend a few years ago. "He just loved the outdoors," Thanh Vo said. "If he saw someone needing help like that, he'd just jump in."
...Nguyen's widow said her husband was a "good man, a sweet man," who "you loved the first time you talked to him."

"When my son grows up, I want him to be like his dad," she said.

Godspeed to both families.

No comments: