Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Medicine Cabinet Recommends

1.Diane Rehm interviews Michael Davis about Sesame Street: This was a great interview. There's a popular conversational icebreaker that goes like this: "If you could have dinner with any historical figure you wanted, who would you pick?" Some people throw out names like George Washington, Jesus, Gandhi,and Martin Luther King, Jr. I couldn't handle all of that austerity. Without missing a beat, my answer is always Jim Henson.

2.Rabbi Shmuley v. Christopher Hitchens: Who do you think won?

3.Survival Of the Weak and Scrawny, by Lisa Huang: Seems like if hunters want to keep scoring the big bucks they need to start breeding them in ratios larger than they are shooting them. It's evolution, baby.

4.Bill Ayers on Hardball: I would probably ‘pal around’ with this guy. Barack Obama’s association with Ayers was one of the lowest, silliest weapons in the republicans handbag this time around. First of all, Ayers seems like a thoughtful and reasonable man. By the time Obama had met him, he was an established college professor, not a violent reactionary. Secondly, isn’t it a testament to Obama’s Christian faith that he was able to look past the sins of Ayers's past and find common ground with the man? A president will need to ‘associate’ with many different kinds of people. Obama’s ability to associate with Bill Ayers only reinforces my belief that we elected the right guy.

5.Why People Don’t Trust Free Markets, by Michael Shermer: Shermer dispels myths about evolution theory and capitalism.

6. Covering, by Kenji Yoshino: I’m reading this book for a class I am taking on sexual orientation. It’s wonderful, and a must read for civil libertarians.

7. I don't care if it makes me less sophisticated in the eyes of Jazz purists: I like The Bad Plus:

Have a great weekend!


Lodo Grdzak said...

Nice tune. That drummer really gets those drums to breathe. Pretty sure they didn't write that tune, though not sure where I recognize it either. I've seen them do this tune a long time ago when they had just popped off. And I remember thinking the same back then--that the drummer is real tight. Well, good start to the weekend.

Spencer Troxell said...

It's a pretty much exact cover of an Aphex Twin song called 'Flim'. The only major difference is in the original, the drums are all electronic. The drumming on this version (which is complicated) breaths a life into the song that wasn't there before. It's amazing what beating on dead animal skins with wooden sticks can do to put some soul in a song.

Have a great weekend!

Lodo Grdzak said...

Flim by Aphex Twin. Wouldn't have got that one on my own. But yeah that makes sense about the electronic drums. Piano player's wasted on this tune--may as well have his cell phone play the melody. But obviously this tune's all about the drums. Interesting band, terrible name.

powermadrecluse said...

I got about half way through the Hitchens v. Boteach debate. I like Hitchens because he is unapologetically atheist. Perhaps it is more that he has a better grasp of the humanities than other atheists who view it as a purely scientific argument. He attacks God in the corner that atheists always miss. He attacks God in the area of the humanities. The Bible isn't telling us how God created the world. It isn't telling us how we evolved. It isn't even telling us how to cure cancer. It is giving us moral truths. That is its purpose. To ignore this point is ludicrous, and yet atheists always do that. Hitchens has the sense to do two things. First, he is unapologetic. It is like going to war. You must be kind or you must be evil, but you cannot be coy. One feels as if Mr. Hitchens is appalled by the lies of Christianity and sees this intellectual crusade or jihad as purely just and holy. Secondly, he attacks its flaws of kindness, or lack thereof. He attacks a God who committed genocide and didn't give a whit about his people until he picked a bronze age backwater. He is also ... wrong. I have heard the scientific argument. It is not my favorite for reasons implied above. However, Rabbi Boteach is brilliant with using not to prove God, but to attack the post-modern atheist where he stands. "Sure you can believe those things, but understand you have not proved your theory conclusively," he seems to say, "this is still a faith issue." The two attack on the grounds of their opponent and don't get bogged down on defense that much. Hitchens' fatal flaw is trying to get all the religions together. Sometimes this works, but sometimes the theistic coalition you assemble leaves you terribly vulnerable. He singled out the Judeo-Christian God well enough, but got hammered because he wouldn't acknowledge any god.

I think the piece in Hardball was answered in the first few minutes. I think Chris Matthews is very good, but he was a bit tiresome in this interview, like he was expecting something new and just sort of went round and round.

I couldn't look at the other stuff because it is late and I should go to bed.

Take care.


GbiZ said...

Rabbi Schmuly wins only if the competition was to see who could plug more of their own books during the course of the debate.

Powermad, there is no "faith problem". Other than you saying that you think Christopher Hitchens is wrong you don't defend your reasons. You can't use science to debunk God but you can use it to prove that he is a redundant hypothesis. Shmuley was all talk and his best argument was that if we accept hitchens argument we dont get to believe in god anymore , therefore hitchens is wrong. that doesnt answer his argument, its all hot air. all the religions are together in believing in a supreme unproveable being. we may like what one religion says more than the other one, but all of them require us change our behavior based on the dictates of an invisible force. Hitchens dominated Shmuley because Shmuley wasnt saying anything.

Spencer Troxell said...

Phil & GbiZ: Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for the comments.

I'm inclined to think Hitchens was the clear victor in this debate, but he was decidedly wrong about at least one thing: The creation museum isn't in Ohio. It's in Kentucky.

Silly Brit.