Thursday, April 26, 2007

Metallica and Philosophy

Dude! There's a new book called Metallica and Philosophy!

All this time you've been banging your head thoughtfully, and didn't even know it.

Scott Ian, guitarist for Anthrax, called it, "The most elucidative dissertation on Metallica ever written. And a kick-ass read to boot!!!"

According to the bullet points on the publisher's Web site, the book:

"Maps out the connections between Aristotle, Nietzsche, Marx, Kierkegaard, and Metallica, to demonstrate the band's philosophical significance";

"Uses themes in Metallica's work to illuminate topics such as freedom, truth, identity, existentialism, questions of life and death, metaphysics, epistemology, the mind-body problem, morality, justice, and what we owe one another".

The book comes from William Irwin, the editor of Seinfeld and Philosophy: A Book about Everything and Nothing, and The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D'oh! of Homer.

Here's the link:

-Colin Burch

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Islam, beauty, and dialogue

In the most recent edition of Image, Gregory Wolfe's essay "East and West in Miniature" addresses the novel My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk, the Turkish writer who won the 2006 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Thematically, the essay is about the tradition of beauty in Islam and the opportunity it provides for dialogue between the Islamic world and the West. Here are some excerpts:

“The recent controversy over Pope Benedict XVI’s Regensburg lecture – which touched on the nature of human reason, but which also questioned, in passing, the relationship between faith and reason in Islam – may turn out to be more productive than was at first thought. Among other things, it generated a substantive open letter to the pope signed by thirty-eight respected Muslim clerics – a document that itself is carefully reasoned and gracious. At a time when the rising tide of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism is being met by increasing fear and stereotyping in the West, any form of dialogue is cause for hope.

“In his insightful essay ‘The Dialogue with Islam,’ Stratford Caldecott points out that the classic western concern about Islam is that it seems to stress the absolute will of Allah without a corresponding emphasis on how that will manifests a reasonable, ordered universe. A religion founded on mere will, of course, would make dialogue irrelevant and provide endless fuel supply for violent conflict. What makes Caldecott’s essay so fresh and provocative is not the evidence he provides for an Islamic tradition of reason (though he does believe it exists), but the suggestion that a more fruitful avenue for dialogue with Islam would be the investigation not of reason but of beauty.

“Over the centuries, as Caldecott notes, one of the central strands of Islam has been what is known as the ‘ihsani tradition.’ The Arabic word ihsan derives from the noun hasana, which means to be beautiful, good, lovely. As a verb, ihsani means to ‘make beautiful or good.’ According to scholar Joseph Lumbard, God himself is the first to make beautiful…. Lumbard argues that the process by which one becomes beautiful is less a rationalistic or legalistic thing that it is the cultivation of a craft or art form. The great Sufi scholars, poets, and mystics stressed that ihsan involved the cultivation of inner discipline.

“….In times of conflict, pragmatism and Puritanism, however opposed to one another, combine to put an end to art….

“In the Koran, God is known under ninety-nine names, one of which is Beauty. That may be the best place for dialogue between cultures and religions to begin.”

Info about Image is availabe at .

-Colin Burch

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Beer bill passes in S.C. House

House Bill 3218 has passed. Now Gov. Mark Sanford can sign it, and if he does, the law will go into effect immediately. This would mean that South Carolina retailers, wholesalers, bars, restaurants, and microbreweries could finally begin to sell beers that exceed 5 percent alcohol by weight (6 percent by volume). The new limit for beer would be 14 percent alcohol by weight.
Check out the Pop the Cap South Carolina blog for more information and a link to the history of HB3218:

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

This could be the day for more beer choices in S.C.

S.C. Senate amendments added to House Bill 3218 will be debated today on the House floor.
If the debate concludes, a vote could come today.
HB 3218 would allow South Carolina (retailers, wholesalers, bars, etc.) to sell beer with alcohol-by-volume percentages of greater than 5 percent, thus allowing many fine imports, craft beers, and microbrews into the state.
Georgia and North Carolina allow beers with higher percentages of alcohol. I recently made about 40 minutes north of Myrtle Beach to the Piggly Wiggly grocery store in Sunset Beach, N.C. Some of the beauties I found there included:
Dogfish 90 Minute IPA
Three Philosophers
Duvel (in the larger, corked bottle and in a four-pack of bottles)
Chimay: red cap, blue cap, and white cap
What glories await us if our state representatives will just pass the bill.
For updates throughout the day, keep any eye on this blog from Pop the Cap-South Carolina: .
-Colin Burch

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Myrtle Beach Moment, No. 7

I don't have a picture for this one. I have a quote from Maggie, age 7.

We were on our way home from church when we passed a slender fellow, wearing jeans, a baseball cap, and a backpack, walking on the side of the road with a giant white cross. It could have been twelve feet tall. The crux was over his shoulder, and the bottom of the cross moved across the ground with two little wheels, like those on a child's wagon.

Maggie said, "Somebody's taking the cross home from church -- on wheels."

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Update No. 2: Clarification on beer bills

I received a return call from another staffer in the office of S.C. Rep. Jim Harrion (R-Richland), and following that conversation, I have to correct the date of the debate on House Bill 3624.

I can now also shed more light on the different roles that are being played by House Bill 3218 and House Bill 3624, both of which would allow, in South Carolina, the sale of beer with as much as 14 percent alcohol by weight.

House Bill 3624 might be debated Thursday (April 19), but it is a "back-up" bill in the event that HB 3218 doesn't pass, according to Heather Smith in Harrison's office.

House Bill 3218 is up for debate Wednesday (April 18), as previously reported. It has already been through the House Judiciary Committee and the Senate, so it's ready for debate and vote in front of the full House.

If HB 3218 were to be voted down, then HB 3624 would head to the Senate, Smith said. The Senate would give its approval, disapproval, or amendments, and then it would return to the House.

While both bills would allow higher alcohol content in beers, HB 3218 has additional language. It also addresses something relating to import and distribution of foreign beer, and that part of the bill was authored in the House Labor Committee. The person I need to talk to in the labor committee -- so I can understand what the dense language says -- will not be available until Monday.

HB 3218 originally dealt only with the import and distribution issue. The alcohol content language was added during its trip to the Senate.

-Colin Burch

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Update on beer bill, or bills

A staffer in the office of S.C. Rep. Jim Harrison (R-Richland) has helped clear up the beer-bill procedures.

The bill would allow, in South Carolina, the sale of beer with as much as 14 percent alcohol by weight. Currently the law limits commercially produced and sold beer to 5 percent.

For starters, there are two bills in the S.C. House that argue for the increase, and both will be debated next week before the full House. Both bills are officially out of committee, the staffer told me.

House Bill 3218, which originally only addressed another matter related to importing beer, picked up the alcohol-increase language while it was getting a look-over from the S.C. Senate (folks in the Senate added more to the bill). It has returned to the House for debate. That debate will be held Wednesday (April 18), and a vote could follow.

House Bill 3624 was the original House bill; it addressed only the alcohol-increase in beers. It will be debated, and possibly put up for a vote, this Tuesday (April 17).

The two bills will most likely, eventually, be wedded into a single bill.

Read House Bill 3218 here:

Read House Bill 3624 here:

-Colin Burch

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Apparently committee vote on beer bill delayed

In the S.C. General Assembly, the House Judiciary Committee was supposed to vote Tuesday on whether to send House Bill 3218 to the floor for a full-House vote. The bill would allow South Carolinians to buy, and retailers and wholesalers to sell, beers that exceed the current limit of 5-percent alcohol by weight.

Apparently, this vote has been delayed. I haven't received a return phone call from the Judiciary chairman's office for the official explanation, but I have two decent pieces of evidence that suggest the vote was delayed.

1. The State House Web page devoted to House Bill 3218 doesn't list any activity taken on the bill yesterday (Tuesday). The page includes a "History of Legislative Action" which tracks each procedure that the bill goes through. The line for today, April 11, reads, "Debate ajourned on Senate amendments until Wednesday, April 18, 2007." So one could guess that, possibly, the Senate has offered some tweaks to House Bill 3218, so the vote is delayed perhaps because the committee members need to give some thought to those tweaks. Read the House Bill 3218 page at .

2. A group called Pop the Top South Carolina has been monitoring the bill's progress in the House and the Senate, and their blog post from today says essentially the same thing I have above. You can read their post here: .

I'll post updates as I get more info.

-Colin Burch

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Bailey: Imus flap is overblown

"All of this over a shock jock who said something shocking? Or not so shocking, given that he's spent the past three decades saying things more incendiary than 'nappy-headed hos.'"

So begins my buddy (and former boss) Issac Bailey's column on the flap over Don Imus' comments about the Rutgers womens basketball team. Read the rest at the link below:

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Starbucks' S.C. roasting facility: some background details

First the news, and then the background that didn't make the news:
"Starbucks and [South Carolina] state officials on Monday announced the global coffee purveyor has plans to build a roasting and distribution plant in St. Matthews, about 15 miles from the state capital. Coffee beans would be sent to the 150,000-square-foot plant, where they'd be roasted and packaged for shipment to the region's 2,200 Starbucks stores and other coffee sellers." -- The Associated Press (Read the rest of the story here: )
Some background details I couldn't find on regional news Web sites, or in national reports:
1. St. Matthews wasn't the only Southern city that Starbucks was seriously considering. Murfreesboro, Tenn., was a finalist for the roasting facility, according to the Murfreesboro Post (
2. The St. Matthews roasting facility will be in exclusive company. The other Starbucks roasting facilities, and the years they opened, are:
New facility built at home base, Seattle, 1990
Kent, Washington, 1993
York, Pennsylvania, 1995
Carson Valley, Nevada, 2003
Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2003
-Colin Burch

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Coffee & cigarettes prevent Parkinson's

"People from families prone to Parkinson's who drink coffee or smoke are less likely to develop the disease, researchers said on Monday in a finding that reinforces earlier observations and offers potential paths to treatment." -- Reuters
Read the full story here:

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Sunday, April 8, 2007

War and poetry in a Mt. Vernon, Iowa, Presbyterian church

When her congregation became divided over the war in Iraq, a liberal Presbyterian minister found that the patriots in the pews didn't want her quoting parts of the Bible. But Emory Gillespie ultimately found comfort among books of poetry and other war-weary clergy. She tells her story here:

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Beer is love, Part 2

A 13th-century edict from the city of Augsburg, Germany:
"The selling of bad beer is a crime against Christian love."

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Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Beer is love

"A truly divine spirit, still brewed by monks and other holy folks, beer may indeed be proof that God loves us."

- Ruth Cullen, The Little Black Book of Beer

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