"The International Scene" debated Americans' knowledge of world affairs.: Americans don't care and don't need to know about the rest of the world. The other: They should care. Other hot stuff this week: the role of Hinduism in India, relations between India and Pakistan, democracy in the Philippines, and more reports from our fraygrant in Indonesia.
Godzilla held center stage in the "Movies and Television" thread until talk moved to science fiction and Star Trek, Babylon Five, Deep Space Nine, and Dune. One fraygrant's lament, "Why hasn't there been a good movie out in the first five months of 1998?" led to a discussion of which year was the best for film. No consensus.
Do people really have an innate ability to generate language? Do or simply recognize patterns? Check out the "Reading" thread, which focused last week on Steven Pinker's seminal The Language Instinct. To judge from the brouhaha over the early chapters, Pinker's theories are--well--far from popular. Join in to find out more.
Pakistan's tests last week the "Nuclear Arms" thread. Some fraygrants believe there's nothing to fear--this is geopolitics as usual; others find the subcontinental tests a frightening development. Examining the effectiveness of U.S. sanctions, fraygrants agreed that sanctions, if they have any effect at all, will hit Pakistan harder than they will India.
The "Clinton and the Media" thread saw much of the interpersonal squabbling it has become noted for--especially as Kenneth Starr's investigation of the president drags on interminably. The forum's conservatives agreed to pity its leading liberal and her "hatred," but returned to rancorous form when talk turned to Clinton's accomplishments and his administration's sale of missile technology to China.
Christians were thrown to the lions this week in the "Religion" thread. A prominent gay fraygrant denounced Christians' "hypocrisy," their (large) role in denying gays equal civil and legal rights, and their "hate the sin but love the sinner" stance. This fraygrant compared the fight against homophobia to the fights against racism and sexism: "Like those fights, opposition is rooted in bigotry and prejudice and ignorance. 'Religious doctrines' were also invoked to deny women the right to vote and to defend slavery. It's the same old thing this time around." He that anti-gay political activities, such as Colorado's Measure 2 and Oregon's Measure 9, are almost always organized by conservative Christians. It is a fight for "social justice," after all.