Friday, January 8, 2010

Wikipedia Is My Co-Pilot

My kids ask me all kinds of questions that I don't know the answer to. Thank Zeus for Wikipedia. How did dads answer the barrage of questions kids ask before the invention of that great, democratic encyclopedia? Sure, some people know alot of stuff, and sure, there were encyclopedias before the internet, but who had a complete encyclopedia? No one in my neighborhood. My family only had the Brittanica for the letter H, and I memorized it. I can tell you all about Harvard, Hatian Death Cults, and Herbert Hoover, but I'm going to need to look up pretty much everything else. I get the feeling that before wikipedia, Dad's were flinging the b.s. fast and furious:

Kid: Why is the sky blue dad?
Dad: I dunno son, God's pen exploded in his pocket.
Kid: Oh.

No wonder kids end up questioning authority.

I am so happy for wikipedia. My sons are always asking these random questions that I can't give them a certain answer for. Example: Dad, what do badgers eat?

Thanks to wikipedia I can tell him that they're omnivores, and that they eat mostly squirrels, a variety of rats, pocket gophers*, sunflower seeds, bees, and honeycombs. Also thanks to wikipedia, I'll be able to inform my boys (when they are older) that koalas have bifurcated penises.

It's a brave new world, but it's one we can survive with a wireless connection.

*what the hell is a pocket gopher?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Everyone Has A Favorite Monster Movie

a fun discussion of classic monster movies has sprung up around an old essay of mine called Monster Movies With Grandpa over at The Daily Kos. Jump in, if that's your thing.

I hope this discussion causes a mysterious surge in people adding classic monster flicks to their netflix queue's today.

PS: It is also noteworthy that, of all the classic monster movies I put in my 'what's the best monster movie of all time' poll, 'The Blair Witch Project 3: The Sarah Palin Story' has by far outstripped the competition.


And, at the end of the day, although she enjoyed a hefty lead for a while there, Mrs. Palin has been unseated by Godzilla, who took the lead at final tally with 23% of the vote. Sarah and Nosferatu are tied for second with 22% each. It's a shame. Sarah Palin can't even win running as what she really is.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

No Free Lunch

I wrote a diary called 'Other Ways Of Knowing' and other SOPHISTicated Arguments Used by the Defenders Of Religion post over at The Daily Kos yesterday, and received this response from a person calling themselves 'Free Lunch':

"This is a political blog. I am not religious. I read PZ's stuff all the time. I agree with almost everything he writes. But ...

I see too many pointless religion battles on this blog to be useful. Dredging up a six month old essay doesn't really help."

to which I replied:

"I think the subject of religious belief is absolutely relevant to politics. The way we think, and the foundations upon which we do our thinking has a profound effect on the political scene. The kind of wish fulfilling, authority respecting thinking that goes into religious belief is the same kind of thinking that leads people into cults of personality (Glenn Beck) and secular religions (tea party movement/stalinism/objectivism). Unless people are willing to be skeptical of their own beliefs and the beliefs of others, there will be no pragmatism, and there will be no workable political solutions to anything. It will always boil down to some kind of 'god is on our side' argument, and that always leads to war.

I stand by the relevance of this subject."

Free Lunch:

"Then talk about those things. Just a general attack on religion or faith is not useful in that context."


"Saying that seems akin to saying something like, 'Let's not talk about dad's alcoholism, let's just talk about why he should stop blacking out and hitting mom.' To me, our thinking foundation is the root of all of our other decisions. I would much rather cut out the hydra's heart than engage in the never ending battle of attempting to cut off all of it's heads. Maybe that's more your calling. I think both approaches can be useful. I'm more of a bottom line kind of person, however."

Free Lunch:

"I can assure you that no one interested in winning any elections will start with a platform that says that all religion is bunk and that religious people should not vote for him.

Not all religious people are like alcoholics, nor do they routinely cause damage to themselves and others in their daily activities."

and me again:

"I think everything you just said is absolutely correct, however, just as an unhealthy body is fertile ground for infection and illness (although it may not be in a constant state of infection or illness), so too is the religious mind more susceptible to the kinds of problems I listed above.

I absolutely agree that realistic politicians need to tread lightly on the issue of religion."

I'm willing to budge on this position, and one of the things that enables me to do that is that I'm not on some illusory crusade against a rival religious faction. Nor am I possessed of the belief that my personal opinions reflect the will of a deity.

I, like Bill O'Reilly, am about solutions.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Joe Lovano 'Folk Art'

"Us Five", from Joe Lovano's Folk Art:

This CD has been blowing my mind lately. I think it's Lovano's best.

Get a copy, if you're into this sort of thing:

Folk Art

Friday, January 1, 2010

10 Commandments for 2012

1. Thou Shalt Not eat at any restaurant that has a drive-thru.

2. Thous Shalt Not listen to talk radio, nor shalt thou buy gold.

3. Thou Shalt read at least one piece of literature per month by an author who died before your father was born.

4. Thou Shalt Not drink alone.

5. Thou Shalt express thy patriotism not through the medium of bumper stickers, but through volunteering your time.

6. Thou Shalt learn how to ride a unicycle.

7. Thou Shalt add as many words to thine vocabulary as there are months in the year.

8. Thou Shalt Not receive revealed wisdom, nor shalt thou bow to the dictates of any authority without submitting said dictates and/or wisdom to rigorous empirical inquiry.

9. Thou shalt eat more Greek food. It's delicious!

10. Thou Shalt modify this list of commandments as needed to better fit your life.