08 October 2007

Link Dump

The skin's mostly loose now, but some of it is stubbornly refusing to be rubbed off. So I figure a link dump is in order, since trying to post anything remotely coherent is probably beyond my abilities. The bits of skin keep sticking in the keyboard. Er, forget that image.

First up is a beaut. Or maybe a Butte. Wait, no... no plate tectonics. Anyway, ever notice the similiarities between religious rationalization and fan-fic? No? I'll clue you in: they're stuck with a single, flawed text. Everyone in their right mind can see its flawed. So then they come up with some incredible mental gymnastics to either explain that the flaws aren't really flaws, or at least why the flaws make some kind of sense. Classic Star Wars example: "She's the ship that made the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs." Of course, the parsec is a measure of distance, not time. So there's a rationalization: a gravitational anomaly. Here's one version: "Actually it does make sense, because the kessel run is done by flying past the Maw Cluster of black holes, so making it in less than 12 parsecs means that Han travelled less than 12 parsecs away from the Maw Cluster in order to shorten his time." Source. Sounds a lot like apologetics to me. Seriously. No, the writers couldn't have made a mistake! Clearly they had in mind this gravitational anomaly!

There are plenty of similar Star Trek examples. My favorite is "Why was the transporter not working such a big deal when they had a runabout?" Answer: "The runabout hadn't been introduced in that episode." Likely in-universe justification: "The runabout had been removed for repairs/was malfunctioning also/had mutated and was trying to eat people."

I recently found a blog written by a now-atheist who still has one year left at his Christian university. Big ouch. Here he describes a typical philosophy class, and his frustration with questions about the meaning of life.

Another recently discovered blog has two good posts. The first discusses rationalism vs. empiricism, among other things. The second discusses a label I'd never heard before: Secular Paganism.

And from the last Carnival of the Godless, an article discussing the meaning of meaning.

This one is just cool: Using spam-filters to digitize old texts that are unreadable by current scanners.

Last, and certainly least comprehensible, is a discussion of the history of taoism. The original story goes that Lao Tzu, disgusted by the decadence of his country, decided to leave. At the border, a guard stopped him and asked him if he wouldn't write a book for those he left behind. Lao Tzu decided, eh, "Why not?" and spent three days. Lo, the Tao te Ching was written, and Lao Tzu left, never to be seen again. The more modern opinion has been that the Tao te Ching was gradually assembled from various sayings and stories. The article suggests that perhaps neither is the case, that perhaps it was a document produced by an entirely different tradition from Taoism. I find this option somewhat amusing.

'Kay. I stop writing now. I can has cold cure?

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