No big deal

“Tuez-les tous! Dieu reconnaîtra les siens.” Arnaud Amaury to his troops before the sack of Béziers, who were unclear on how to tell the difference between the Cathar heretics who needed extermination and good Christians.  Often rendered as “kill ’em all; let God sort ’em out!”

It is widely believed in Islam that anyone who dies on the Hajj goes directly to heaven; if so the 700 souls killed in the stampede in Mecca were actually spared years enduring our imperfect world and are now grateful for the short cut.

“…it seems to me that the more Christian a country is, the less likely it is to regard the death penalty as immoral. … I attribute that to the fact that, for the believing Christian, death is no big deal.” Antonin Scalia, 2002. [It is not clear whether the distinguished believing Christian justice was dissing the death of non-Christians, or of Christians, or all of these.]

A Man was hanged by the neck until he was dead.

“Whence do you come?” Saint Peter asked when the Man presented himself at the gate of Heaven.

“From California,” replied the applicant.

“Enter, my son, enter; you bring joyous tidings.”

When the Man had vanished inside, Saint Peter took his memorandum-tablet and made the following entry:

“February 16, 1893.  California occupied by the Christians.” Ambrose Bierce

Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.

One thought on “No big deal”

  1. The Saudi government has created the huge risks to pilgrims on the Haj by subsidizing mass air travel. I knew a pious Moroccan woman in Strasbourg who had gone on the Haj I think it was six times. It was originally supposed to be extremely difficult and time-consuming, therefore meritorious. It's hard to see how they can walk the thing back to a reasonable and safe scale.

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