Dennis C. Rasmussen – The Infidel and the Professor: David Hume, Adam Smith, and the Friendship That Shaped Modern Thought
A highly enjoyable dual biography of David Hume and Adam Smith that mixes the personal and the intellectual. Rasmussen spends too much time on their religious beliefs for my taste, but still gives plenty of attention to more interesting topics. Hume was famously gregarious while Smith was intensely private, though their friendship was a close one. Despite some differences, they were also close intellectual allies who repeatedly defended each other from their many critics.
Hume gets the lion’s share of the book’s attention, mainly because Smith asked that most of his papers be burned after his death. His wishes were mostly respected, leaving less material for the historian to work from.
Have a listen here.
The bitter fight over Gina McCarthy, President Obama’s nominee for EPA Administrator, is headed to the Senate floor under a potential filibuster threat. Myron Ebell, Director of CEI’s Center for Energy and Environment, explains that the deeper cause of this political fight is a startling lack of transparency at the EPA that McCarthy is unlikely to fix.
The ever-loquacious Penn Jillette talks to Nick Gillespie about his new book, God, No! He doesn’t know if any gods exist or not, and he doesn’t know what’s best for other people.
His basic philosophical humility is a refreshing departure from right-wing religiosity and left-wing social engineering; they do know what’s best for other people.
Saudi Arabian police arrested a vulture that they believed to be a Mossad spy. Scientists at Tel Aviv University tagged the bird so they could study its migration patterns, which apparently include rural Saudi Arabia. Haaretz reports:
[R]esidents and local reporters told Saudi Arabia’s Al-Weeam newspaper that the matter seemed to be a “Zionist plot.”
The accusations went viral, with hundreds of posts on Arabic-language websites and forums claiming that the “Zionists” had trained these birds for espionage.
It is not clear if the bird’s guilt has been determined by Saudi authorities, or what its sentence will be.
The old religion meets the new religion:
Osama bin Laden’s latest reason to condemn the United States has to do with climate change.
The al Qaeda leader in a new audio message published by al Jazeera, bin Laden verbally attacks the U.S. and other industrialized nations for polluting the planet.
“It is very important not to mistake hemlock for parsley, but not at all important whether or not you believe in God.”
–Diderot, in a letter to Voltaire (June 11, 1749).