Archive for the ‘Navel Gazing’ Category

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Taking Blogging Seriously

June 9, 2009

I would love to write more.   I would love to put provocative, witty, and intelligent posts up on a daily basis.   I just can’t.  I think it is because I take blogging seriously.  If bloggers are going to be taken seriously then to a certain extent we have to take this thing we do seriously.  So I try not to be lazy and actually find sources that confirm what I say.  I read lots and comment little… I blog even less.  This is because I try to ensure that my posts find some sort of grammatical and logical coherence.  I still believe in capitalization, periods, and spellchecks.  I have some difficulty with paragraphs, but I’m working on it.  

I blog little because I want to blog write well.  Maybe this defeats the point of blogging, but if all I leave is this little corner of cyberspace I would like it to not embarrass me posthumously.

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Our collective vapidity

April 23, 2009

John Doyle has a surprisingly cynical take on the Susan Boyle phenomenon.  I have to be honest and say I have yet to see the clip but Doyle’s point digs deeper. 

 We think we root for the underdog, but we don’t really. We are a superficial, catty and vapid culture. We aren’t interested in authenticity. We mainly watch TV shows featuring people we’d like to date, touch and have sex with.

To a large extent I believe he’s right.  And like Neil Postman says in Amusing Ourselves to Death this is the ultimate function of television.  It was never going to be that deep, we’ve only reached new heights of superficiality.

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Study Break #4

April 15, 2009

Today I have a clip from one of my favorite composers: Felix Mendelssohn.  I had not heard this piece until I stumbled across it in my iTunes.  It may not work here so follow the link to youtube and check it out.  I cannot believe how fast the pianist’s hands move.  

Piano Concerto #1 in G Minor
Mendelssohn 

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An Atheist and a Christian walk into a bar.

March 29, 2009

This thought has reoccurred to me a number of times. It is kind of simple and definitely in need of refinement. It is essentially related to the problem of evil. When you ask nonbelievers why they don’t believe in God, especially those who once did, you frequently get an interesting response. “If there is a God look at all the pain he’s caused, all the evil he allows. How could anyone believe in him?” They blame the God who doesn’t exist for the problems in the world. But there is a disconnect. Without God being responsible for evil we are left with two possible conclusions as to evil’s existence. There is no evil, or evil is humanity’s fault.

In the first category you have Nietzsche and Richard Rorty. Evil is merely a definition that varies according to person or the powerful. This is, so far as I can tell, the most logical outcome of true atheistic ethics. However, if you don’t subscribe to that outcome of atheism you are left drawing the same conclusion as the Christian.  We’re responsible.

This is where exitential guilt comes in.  Every time I lie, every time I take an action that in some way injures someone else, it is my responsibility.  I can blame no one else.  This guilt seems to be little felt in the West, where the consequences for something as simple as buying a cup of coffee or pair of sneakers are so far removed from us we don’t see them.  But we’re contributing to the mess of the third world by our mere existence.  Forget pollution, try and imagine everyone on earth producing as much physical trash as we do, there isn’t the landfill space for it.

Christianity, and Judaism before it, had and has a word for this problem: sin.  We are responsible for the problems of the world, merely by existing.  The atheist doesn’t agree with us on the terminology.  But if they believe that evil exists in the world then we are on the same page.

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Neil Gaiman on Coraline, Monsters, and Adults.

March 8, 2009

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned how much I loved the movie Coraline.  The beauty of the stopmotion filming and effects was unmatched in any recent movie.  The way Henry Selick brought this incredible story by my favorite author, Neil Gaiman, to life was amazing to watch.  The 3D experience made it that much more mindblowing.

Anyway, while looking for information on the movie I found this interview with Neil Gaiman and Henry Selick.  It was interesting to read how the whole thing came about.  The interviwer asked Neil Gaiman about how scary the story can be, and Gaiman gave this really insightful answer:

In a good way. Honestly, I believe that you need your bad guy to be bad. You need your monster to be monstrous, you need something for a kid to go up against. Otherwise you’re in that bleak dull Disney Channel fiction in which somebody thinks that they weren’t invited to the birthday party, but at minute 18 they discover it was all a mix-up and they really were and there is not conflict and there is no evil and there’s nothing to fight and there’s nothing to win and nothing was ever at risk and everybody gets to hug! And that’s not what you send people out into the world with! You don’t arm them with that. Arm them with the idea that yes, there are monsters out there, but you can defeat them. In my experience, “Coraline” is so much more scary for adults. Adults are watching a film about a child in danger, kids are watching a film about somebody brave doing something cool.

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So where does this leave us?

February 28, 2009

This is interesting.  According to an article on discovery.com we are hard-wired to react to unfair situations.

Disgust over an unfair or immoral social situation is hard-wired into the human body as strongly as the reaction to a foul taste, according to research published today in the journal Science.

The idea that this study is conclusive is a little difficult, and the problem, especially understanding brain elasticity, is that things that are learned can appear to be hardwired.  Is this facet like language?  We’re hardwired to learn language, but what language we learn is not necessarily pre-determined.  Anyway, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on this.

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Another G.K. Quote.

February 26, 2009

I love G.K. Chesterton. N.T. Wright referred to him on a video I was watching today when being open minded came up. I searched for the direct quote and found this:

Merely having an open mind is nothing; the object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.
G.K. Chesterton

Skepticism is a valid intermediary position.  One should be willing to examine evidence, and suspend judgement barring sufficient information.  However, sufficient is the key word here.  If you spend your entire life waiting to be entirely convinced of everything you will get nowhere.  That is the trouble with walking around open-minded; your brains tend to fall out.*

*I realize that last sentence is not original, but I can’t find out who originally said it.