Ricky Gervais on God

Just in time for Christmas, Ricky Gervais answers the question "Why don't you believe in God." There's nothing new here, but since he's one of the most prominent and entertaining comedians of our day, I find his answer interesting.

I'm simplifying things considerably, but Gervais essentially argues that "science can't prove God exists." I've always found this line of reasoning to be faulty because "science" seems to be the wrong tool for the job.

No one argues that "hammers are useless because yesterday I tried to screw in a lightbulb and my hammer just kept breaking them to pieces." Likewise, no one says "I don't believe in poetry because..." and then finishes that sentence with the same objections they bring to the God vs. Science Debate.

Poetry doesn't exist chiefly to tell us how molecules interact, but a good poet could probably tell that story in a compelling way. Poetry exists, and has its power, because it gets to a part of us in a way that nothing else can.

Science (do I really need to write this sentence?) is abundantly valuable and useful. But it cannot (nor should it) do for us what religion or poetry can.

This isn't the final word on "why I believe," but, among other things, faith in Christ helps me make sense of myself and this world in ways that science and even poetry never could.

What a Time to be Alive

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

- Arthur C. Clarke

What's the Opposite of Congress?



Is there anyplace besides DC where the threat to "keep working" is more powerful than its opposite?

Overheard at Thanksgiving

I dasn't say which of my non-maliciously racist relatives uttered the following:

"...The Rock - is he black or puerto rican?...he's not Caucasian, but he doesn't have any black features...he's got black LIPS but he doesn't talk black..."

Dit Lit

dit |dit| noun (in Morse code) another term for dot 1 . ORIGIN World War II: imitative.

literature |ˈlit(ə)rə ch ər; -ˌ ch oŏr; -ˌt(y)oŏr| noun 1 written works, esp. those considered of superior or lasting artistic merit : a great work of literature. • books and writings published on a particular subject : the literature on environmental epidemiology. • the writings of a country or period : early French literature. • leaflets and other printed matter used to advertise products or give advice. 2 the production or profession of writing. ORIGIN late Middle English (in the sense [knowledge of books] ): via French from Latin litteratura, from littera (see letter ).

dit lit |dit lit| noun written works consisting of 500 words or less. ORIGIN me.

Windmills

I know we're supposed to love Green Energy in all its forms, but there's a reason that the well-heeled don't want windfarms floating off the coast - and within sight - of Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, etc. I was in the mountains this weekend and noted a new crop of windmills growing atop a distant ridge, and couldn't help but think they spoiled the view a bit. Maybe not as much as if the range had been clear-cut or strip-mined, but it's no longer a pristine view.

There's got to be a word for this phenomenon, and until someone else proposes a better one, I'm going with: windmills + molestation = windmillestation.


UPDATE:  This may take a while to catch on.

Thoughts on Sports

Watching the Eagles v. Colts yesterday, I had a couple thoughts:
  • I like watching Michael Vick play, and I like what he highlights about our national sense of moral indignation: we are still probably much more upset with Vick for the way he treats (or at least treated) dogs than we are with Kobe for almost-certainly-raping a woman. I say, let Vick play and win! Let him remain in the NFL for at least as long as Kobe stays in the NBA.
  • I am getting more and more repulsed by football. Every time they wheel another guy off the field on a body board, I get a little more sick of the game. If I wanted to watch grown men brutalize each other into semi-consciousness or paralysis, I'd just tune in to UFC on pay-per-view. At this point, the difference is negligible.

On a separate but related note, I loved this video postcard from Cleveland to LeBron.

A Touch of Good Grammar

"I like the exact word, and clarity of statement, and here and there a touch of good grammar for picturesqueness"

- Mark Twain

Law School

747

If I didn't know better, I'd think AK wrote this piece just to see if we would stumble across it...

"The 747 represented the single largest industrial achievement in modern history and its abandonment in the deserts make a statement about the obsolescence and ephemeral nature of our technology and our society,"...etc.

And I think the words "Malibu," "meditation pavilion," "animal barn," [is there any other kind?] and "art studio" tell us everything we need to know about the homeowner.


AK

She knows all the hidden doors in the city, and what they lead to.

She once took some friends to a bar she'd merely *heard* was a great place. Once.

She rarely attends live musical performances, but when she does, she follows along with the score in her lap.

Her ice cubes are twice as big as any you've seen before. And they will be next time, too.

She knows where the hammocks are.

She once passed up [or considered passing up, I'm not sure yet] an opportunity to meet a comedic idol, because attending the event would have put her in the company of a comic she hates.

She owns a hotel, consisting of a single lavishly appointed suite on the 6th floor of a residential building, and lives there year-round.

She has been visited by Seal at night.

She can predict her friends' future opinions by forming them herself and passing them off as her own.

She knows that the color Brown causes alcohol to induce day-long hangovers.

She thoroughly understands baseball, and loves it anyway.

She is...The Most Interesting Girl in the World.

Cigars, Bacon, Naps, and Gin

I believe this is what the punters call a Superfecta:
Author Barbara Holland was a self-professed guardian of indulgences including cigars, bacon, naps and gin. 
During her 77 years, she had written more than 15 books of eclectic, often quirky range: a historical look at the appreciation of cats, a biography of actress Katharine Hepburn, two wry books about the presidency and a lighthearted book on jousting...

Meta


I think I just found a hole in the space-time continuum.
I'm reading this web page, and scrolling down as I go, and notice that the vertical adspace (eat for less...iPad...Ellicott City Moms...) scrolls with me. Pretty cool, but not too unusual. Then, as I approach the end of the article, I notice that a banner ad at the bottom of the page is layered OVER the scrolling ad (see how the "wrinkle cream" ad comes out beneath it?). So, I stop to read the banner ad, and it is...an ad for advertising.
An advertisement for advertising that covers up another advertisement in order to gain attention.

To quote the least intolerable character ever portrayed by Keanu Reeves: Whoa.

You can't always get [someone to do] what you want.

This is one of many reasons that trying to get people to do something you want them to do for the sake of their health seems impossible to me. Since some of you surely won't read the whole article, I'll summarize: it's about a program being tested in which people can win money for taking their medicine. The three most powerful paragraphs, in my opinion, are these:
Before the program, Chiquita Parker, a 25-year-old single mother with lupus, too ill to continue her job with special needs children, repeatedly made medication mistakes, although she knows she depends on warfarin to prevent clots than can cause strokes, paralysis, or death. "I would forget to take it," and feel "like I couldn't breathe," she said. Or she would "take two in a day," and develop bruises from uncontrolled internal bleeding. But in the six-month lottery program, she pocketed about $300. "You got something for taking it," Ms. Parker said. Suddenly, she said, "I was taking it regularly, I was doing so good."
So, top boil that down: a woman who is unemployed (and therefore presumably has a fair amount of time on her hands) cannot muster the organizational skills and discipline to take a single LIFE-SAVING pill every day, but when the prospect of winning money enters the picture she suddenly thinks she "got something for taking it."
This is the real kicker, to me:
"We've made our best efforts to say, 'If you didn't take your beta blocker or asthma medicine, you have a greater chance of ending up with a heart attack or dead or hospitalized,' " said Dr. Lonny Reisman, Aetna's chief medical officer. "It's going to take more. It's going to take incentives."
The implication, I guess, is that "living," not having a heart attack," and "staying out of the hospital" are not really incentives, so stating the opposites as disincentives and then offering money as the only real "incentive" gets you out of the mess.

Results in two initial studies showed that many patients took improved warfarin use and that their blood-clotting levels stayed normal much more frequently.

Still, many said "the incentive had nothing to do with it," Dr. Volpp said. "They want to take credit for having done it on their own, not because somebody paid them," he said. "Most people on some level actually want to do these things. And we want them to feel like they did it on their own" to keep them adhering when payments stop.

But not everyone did.

"I really went backward," Ms. Parker said, after her participation ended. "I'm just forgetting all over again."

Really, Ms. Parker? Shocker.

Affordable Housing

fascinating game of words and numbers...
More than 72% of American families making the nation's median income of $63,800 a year, could afford to buy a home...
Translation: about 1/4 of the families that make an average income cannot afford to buy a home. Obviously, that fraction goes up as you descend from median...

then this:
Homeownership continues its more than year-long trend of remaining within reach of more households than it has for almost two decades...
What a grammatical monstrosity, in addition to being so circular that it almost creates its own field of gravity. Homeownership is "more within reach" than it has been for the last 20 years; but for OVER a year, this has been true. The last year+ is within "the last 20 years," therefore homeownership is getting exponentially more within reach every day. Ergo, by September, all homes should be free!

Eat More Bacon.

un. be. lievable.

Never before have the phrases "butter up that bacon" and "bacon up that sausage" had such healthy connotations.

Awesome...?

"With iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations, -- none of which I know how to work -- information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation," XXXXX said.

If the above were taken from a Bush commencement address, he would be mocked and ridiculed. Instead, these are the words of Obama, and he's somehow able to retain his reputation as an intellectual hero when he's willing to expose his ignorance so clearly. I mean, he's honest enough to admit he doesn't know how to operate these devices (one of which he gave to the Queen of England, loaded with some of his own historic speeches) but somehow retains enough moral superiority to pass judgement on their value to society?!

What if this was W?

"With iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations, -- none of which I know how to work -- information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation," XXXXX said.

If the above were taken from a President Bush commencement address, he would be mocked and ridiculed. But these are the words of President Obama. He remains an intellectual hero even when he's willing to expose his ignorance so clearly.

Cheers, Mr. President, for being honest enough to admit you don't know how to operate these devices (one of which you gave to the Queen of England, loaded with some of your own "historic" speeches) but how do you manage to retain enough moral superiority to pass judgement on their value to society?

Bumper Sticker Logic

Saw this car outside the bank this morning. By the transitive property of equality, would it be accurate to say that Christ loves this person's pet? What are the odds that this was the driver's intended meaning? What kind of person believes that the two most important things a passing driver could know about them is that they are both devout and pet-loving?