In defense of the indefensible

Consider the following scenario.

A Muslim terrorist has got hold of a massive nuclear weapon that can be triggered by remote control and has placed it in a secret location in the heart of New York City. You are his prisoner in a room where he has his finger on the detonator button. He gleefully tells you that he is going to set off the weapon killing and injuring tens of thousands of people unless you agree to his demands. What demands? He points to a woman cowering in the corner and says that if you rape her, he will not blow up the bomb and will give himself up peacefully.

Wouldn’t rape be justified in such a situation?
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Incredible bamboo houses

Via reader Norm, I heard about this website that shows photos of houses that have been built using bamboo. What I had not expected was how spectacular they are. The accompanying article says that the houses are sustainable but what impressed me was that bamboo, something that I always thought of as a flexible plant, seems to be strong enough to support such large structures with plumbing, etc.
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They really don’t care about growth, they just want to cut taxes on the rich

Russell Berman describes yet another example of the old sleight of hand practiced by supply-side politicians, this time in the state of Kansas, where the governor Sam Brownback came into office promising that tax cuts would boost the economy of that state so much that it would more than compensate for the loss of revenue.
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How to finely chop an onion

I am not a foodie. I do not seek out gourmet eating experiences and am happy to eat pretty much a limited range of dishes cooked at home, do not watch any of the many cooking shows on TV, nor am I particularly interested in talking about food. But ever since I read the book Soul of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman that I wrote about here, I have been impressed with how rigorous the training is that chefs receive and the precision operation of restaurant kitchens.
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A small win for science and rationality

A state judge in Maine has rejected an effort by that state’s governor to impose a quarantine on Kaci Hickox, the nurse who treated Ebola patients in Liberia and then on her return was the target of a short-lived attempt by New Jersey governor Chris Christie to quarantine her for 21 days before pressure forced him to change his mind and send her to her home in Maine.
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When the US had universal childcare

The US is rightly criticized for being one of the most backward countries in the developed world when it comes to providing health care and social benefits. So I was surprised to read that at one time, it actually provided universal child care through what is known as the Lanham Act. The law was designed to fund war-related infrastructure projects but got reinterpreted when a new need arose in 1943.
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