The Problem of Evil

…Is god willing to prevent evil, but not able to?  Then he is not omnipotent. …Is he able, but not willing?  Then he is malevolent. …Is he both willing and able?  Then whence cometh evil?  Then why call him god? ~ Epicurus (341-271 B.C.E.) ~ I couldn’t have said it better myself.  There have been many others who proposed their own formulation, and there may have been some who said it earlier, but none have said it better than old Epicurus.  Epicurus and other like-minded philosophers have bedeviled Christian, Islamic and Jewish thinkers for millennia.   First a short sidebar on Epicurus:   Epicurus was a Greek philosopher in the image...

The Wall

To borrow corruptly from the Bard, “A wall by any other name would still be a wall.”  Whether a barrier, a fence (barbed wired or not), circles of razor wire, steel slats, stone, hog panels, rock, solid cement, a line (as in the Maginot Line), with or without turrets and machine gun emplacements… it’s still a wall. I know, you’re as sick as of hearing about “the wall” as I am, and probably you’re as confused as I am about whether and how much wall we have, whether and how much wall is currently under construction, whether and how effective it is, whether there is a need for more wall, how much it would cost, and...

Once Upon a Time in Russia…

A recent visit to St. Petersburg stimulated my recollections of the six or so encounters I’ve had with the evil empire and its minions over the years.  Yes, I know, a few visits over 30 years does not an expert make, but it does allow me to have an opinion.  I previously shared my observations of one early encounter in a blog titled “The People I Think I Know” in August, 2011.  It didn’t involve my own personal interaction with something Russian, it described an encounter of Margaret Thatcher’s (then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom) which she related to me at an engagement party for her son Mark.  To get to the point, she...

The Khashoggis

If you were surprised by the killing and dissection of Jamal Khashoggi by representatives of the government of Saudi Arabia, you have not been paying attention.  Execution by beheading has been the preferred method of ridding the Kingdom of its undesirables for decades if not centuries.  Even today, through the first four months of 2018, at least 48 souls have been dispatched to the great hereafter by the Saudi authorities wielding swords, often carried out in the town square at 9:00 in the morning.  They are now working on their technique of executing multiple beheadings simultaneously. I guess this is what counts for progress in The Kingdom.  And what were...

My Oligarch

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the term “oligarch?”  Lemme guess:  a rare butterfly, distress in the small intestine, the nth power of zero, or, or, or… a really rich Rooskie who has a palatial estate in the south of France and an 8000 square foot flat in Trump Tower.   Okay, I know I shouldn’t use an ethnically pejorative term to describe a person, but, by golly, I can’t help myself.  Be honest, you thought of a Russian, too.  In fact, I don’t believe there is any such thing as a Canadian oligarch or a Uruguayan oligarch.  To be an oligarch you just gotta be a Rooskie, er, I mean Russian.  And...