Thursday, June 28, 2012

Scarcely a mention of God

"I've been ragging on Disney, psyching myself for the impending family visit with Team Rodent I've not been able to extricate myself from. But on the other hand, there's this to consider: the more than thirty-five animated features Disney has released since 1937, there is scarcely a mention of God as conceived in the Christian and Jewish faiths shared by most people in the Western world and many beyond. 
It may be a commercial decision, to embrace the godless form of magic, but wouldn't you rather wish on a star than suborn your soul to servility?" God-free in Tennessee

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Mapping philosophy

"Here is an intriguing map of philosophical space... The raw data was culled from the “influenced by” section for the pages of all the philosophers listed in Wikipedia — using an algorithm. The images are startling, and the map does seem to get many of the big thinkers what seems intuitively the right size and location (though one does notice Descartes’ “star” must be too small relative to his influence). But it is unclear how effective the algorithm is at saying something meaningful about the history of philosophy and, correlatively, the history of ideas. One also wonders what a similar map drawing on the data in, say, The Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy, would look like." Stone Links: A Constellation of Philosophers -

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Happy Solstice!

"The summer solstice—also called midsummer—has long been recognized and often celebrated by many cultures around the world. The ancient Egyptians, for example, built the Great Pyramids so that the sun, when viewed from the Sphinx, sets precisely between two of the Pyramids on the summer solstice. The Inca of South America celebrated the corresponding winter solstice with a ceremony called Inti Raymi, which included food offerings and sacrifices of animals, and maybe even people. (See a picture of an Inca winter solstice festival.) Recently, archaeologists discovered the remains of an astronomical observatory in a long-buried Maya city in Guatemala in which the buildings were designed to align with the sun during the solstices. During such times, the city's populace gathered at the observatory to watch as their king appeared to command the heavens. And perhaps most famously, Stonehenge in the United Kingdom has been associated with the winter and summer solstices for about 5,000 years. Summer Solstice 2012: Why It's the Longest Day of the Year

Q: Today is the longest day of the year. How will you and your friends spend the extra time? 

Extra time? What a bonus!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Why I stopped following PZed Myers

Not to pick a fight or anything, but...

I stopped following PZ Myers (@pzmyers) on Twitter about a month ago. I just noticed how much I've enjoyed not missing him, and wonder if others wouldn't benefit similarly from shutting off that particular faucet of vulgar, constantly-streaming antipathy for pretty much everyone not in lock-stop with the masher from Minnesota.

The "Why I Am An Atheist" series on his site did admittedly provide a useful template in our "Atheism & Philosophy" course at MTSU. (Most contributors, like just about all of my students, are a lot nicer than their host.)

And I confess, I took more than a little guilty pleasure in watching him skewer an ongoing parade of dunderheads in public.

But not all theists are dunderheads, and not all atheists are people I want on my team. PZed's vituperative displays of misanthropy finally got to be too much. He may be a good atheist (though not a great one), but he's not a good humanist. His human sympathies are in fact shriveled and grinch-like, his heart is at least two sizes too small, and I don't need to share mental space with such people.

There, I've said it. For what it's worth. Namaste, PZed.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Time is an illusion?

I suppose what some people (Einstein, Spinoza) mean by that is that the human perspective, from which time is all too real, is limited. True enough, but who really wants to live timelessly?

It's fun to recall Douglas Adams' Ford Prefect: "time is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so." I have no idea what that means, but if time were an illusion it would be literally un-recallable, and that would be sad.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Walking in Kyoto

"It’s interesting that the pathway which links three of the world’s most important Zen temples – Ginkaku-ji, Nanzenji and Kyomizudera – is called The Philosophers’ Walk. This gives stress and emphasis to the fact that Zen is a philosophy and not a religion..." The Philosophers’ Walk | 3Di Associates – 3D Eye

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A train wreck

One of my favorite regular walks takes me safely by Dutchman's Curve, the site of the worst train wreck in U.S. history.

Nice metaphor. Like whistling past the graveyard.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

"Not one will care at last"

The future both attracted and repelled Ray Bradbury, leaving him filled with apprehension and hope.

And that's why we need more light.

"More light"

Ray Bradbury's "Mr. Electrico" would agree, light is life. As  says, this was "one of the best finales on Northern Exposure, which had lots of stunning ones."

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Just write

Inspirational advice from Walter Dean Myers, heard on NPR's "Here and Now" yesterday.
"I tell the young people I meet to read. Read everything you can, looking for the ideas that give you hope and expand your sense of what’s possible. If you can’t find something you’re looking for in a book, write it yourself. Try to get published. You have stories that other kids might need to read. You have stories that should be heard. Maybe a reader will find your book when the timing’s just right and it will help save a life. So just write." 
Walter Dean Myers Shows Kids How To Succeed Under Tough Circumstances | Here & Now:

Solar Dok

I discovered this "Solar Dok" while walking at Vanderbilt last night.

What a great template for how we should be powering every aspect of our lives. Accelerating Intelligence News