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Isaac Newton versus Genghis Khan

ISAAC NEWTON was the greatest scientist in history and, perhaps more than anyone before or since, changed the world with his ideas. 'Nearer the Gods' said Edmond Halley 'no mortal may approach'. Newton never had any children and is believed, like Adam Smith and Immanuel Kant, to have died a virgin. So arguably, the three most influential intellectuals of modern times never had sexual relations with a woman. Maybe there's a lesson there.

Intellectual Balance Needed

In A Conflict of Visions, Thomas Sowell posits two fundamental political outlooks, the constrained and unconstrained visions. The first is best expressed in Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations, which accepts man's moral limitations and egocentricity as inherent facts of life. Rather than wastefully attempting to change human nature, it tries to make the best of the possibilities existing within that context.

THE END OF CHRISTENDOM?

'GOD IS dead', wrote Friedrich Nietzsche in 1882. Sigmund Freud agreed - "The more the fruits of knowledge become accessible to men, the more widespread is the decline of religious belief."

THE NET EFFECT

“Big a yard and small abroad” goes an old saying. And since I was in Canada on March 8th it certainly rang true for me about the North East St. Ann by election. The Jamaican newspapers that week talked of little else, but in the Canadian media it warranted no mention at all. Which is hardly surprising. After all Jamaicans don’t pay attention to Canadian by elections either.

BACK TO AFRICA?

Last year the human genome “Book of Life” project confirmed what every intelligent person already knew, that there is no scientific basis for the concept of race. Only a fraction of the three billion letters in the human genetic code differ among individuals, so biologically we are all 99.99% the same. Persons from different ethnic groups can be more genetically similar than individuals within the same group, and there is more genetic variability within Africa than outside it. Meaning that from a biological perspective all of us are Africans, either residing in Africa or in recent exile.

THE NDM ENIGMA

Never say never is the first rule of politics, so it may be premature to write the National Democratic Movement’s obituary. But with declining poll ratings, ineffective leadership and muddled policies, the NDM increasingly appears a spent force.

Golding's Record in Perspective

'There are lies, damned lies and statistics,' goes one argument. 'It's easy to lie with statistics, but it's easier to lie without them,' says another. At any rate, numbers only mean anything when put in perspective, especially economic numbers. Jamaica having 2.5 per cent inflation from January to June of this year, and our economy growing by 1.5 per cent in the first two quarters, doesn't really ring bells. But Jamaica having both lower inflation and higher GDP growth than the United States for the first half of 2011 makes you sit up and pay attention. When has this happened before, if ever? (Sources: BOJ, USBEA)

Rough Road, Top Driver

From 1944 to 1989, Jamaica was a two term land. Each administration was voted back in once, and no more. But the PNP governed for four straight terms from 1989 to 2007. And like many political parties left in charge too long, the Comrades started acting - as a lady once exclaimed angrily to me - "like dem daddy dead and lef dem the country!"

Golding too Good to be True?

Hard-core tribalists feel their party can do no wrong, and the other side no right. Criticism of their team or praise of the opponents - no matter how justified by the facts - is unmitigated bias. But to non-diehards, it's usually no better herring, no better barrel. Wearing orange or green does not make a politician better or worse. The important thing is to swap them every 10 years or so. And honest commendation or blame must be based on actual performance, not party allegiance.

All Different, all the Same

The Olympics may be the most unifying international force humankind has ever known. Over a billion persons watched the opening ceremonies in Beijing. And black, white, yellow or brown, who didn't feel a momentary sense of kinship with every one of the 204 national contingents parading by? All different, yet all the same human beings as us. This, too, am I.