Gene's next monthly chat is Tuesday, July 29 at noon. You may submit questions here.
Although this weekly edition provides an update between live chats, it is not and never will be a "blog," even though many persons keep making that mistake. One reason for the confusion is the Underpants Paradox: Blogs, like underpants, contain "threads," whereas this chat contains no "threads" but, like underpants, does sometimes get funky and inexcusable.
Today we are going to have an extra special chat update, by which I mean a slew of corrections to and clarifications of things I have recently written. Then we will have a poll. This will all be exciting.
First, concerning my column on Sunday, a few astute readers pointed out that had the Columnists Association instead given the award to Tom Friedman, they still would have been spared having to pay travel expenses, since although Tom writes for the New York Times, he happens to live in Bethesda, a fact I had not known when I wrote the column. Interestingly enough, I found out about that before the column appeared online but after I had delivered the speech upon which the column was based, which raised the fascinating epistemological question of: What Is Truth?
1. The column said that it was taken from the acceptance speech I had delivered.
2. The acceptance speech, though wrong, cited Tom Friedman.
3. Had I "corrected" the online version of the column, I would have created an internal lie, since I would no longer be accurately excerpting the speech.
In the resulting philosophical confusion the following occurred: The online version of the column, and the version in print in The Washington Post, referenced Tom Friedman. The version packaged and distributed nationally to other newspapers who buy my syndicated column, was "corrected" to read "Paul Krugman," who lives in New York. All three versions in one sense were accurate, and in another sense, were lies. You make the call.
Okay, next, in last week's update I expressed outrage that Pennsylvania's state constitution appeared to require an oath of office acknowledging believe in God and an afterlife -- several lawyer-readers claimed I had misunderstood and misrepresented the statute. They are right, sort of.
Despite a U.S. Constitutional ban on this sort of thing, eight states do mention God in their oath of office, but Pennsylvania's is a little sly. Here's how they do it: "NO Person who acknowledges the being of a God and a future state of rewards and punishment shall, on account of his religious sentiments, be disqualified to hold any office or place of trust or profit under this Commonwealth."
In short, this appears to specially protect the openly religious from discrimination, but it does not directly discriminate against those without religion, as I had interpreted it. (The other seven states make the absolute fealty to God a prerequisite for holding office, such as this delightfully hypocritical one in Maryland: "That no religious test ought ever to be required as a qualification for any office of profit or trust in this State, other than a declaration of belief in the existence of God."
But I was wrong about Pennsylvania, and I hereunto acknowledge that.
How-so-fricking-ever, I would like to still gently point out that this statute uses the phrasing "acknowledges the being of a God and a future state of rewards and punishments."
"Acknowledges" has a very specific meaning. It means: "To admit the truth of."
Ergo, the Pennsylvania Constitution specifically declares the existence of God.
I rest my case, weak though it may be. I actually think it is not weak. I think it could be successfully challenged on Constitutional grounds.