January 2008

Interesting talk by Wilfred DeClay of the University of Tennessee from the Pew Center’s colloquium on Religion and Secularism. Here’s the thesis: Alexis de Tocqueville was very impressed by the degree to which religion persisted in the American democracy and that religious institutions seemed to support American democratic institutions. What Tocqueville was describing, in fact,…

Read More Varieties of secularism

Last night my PowerBook suffered the same Power Management Unit-related failure that I’ve described before, and so today I booked a session at the “Genius Bar” in the Bellevue Apple store. Inevitably, the “Genius” was unable to reproduce the problem: we restarted and power-cycled the machine several times, but it always restarted successfully. We agreed…

Read More Frustrating

Following up on my thoughts yesterday about the wasteful character of the U.S. political system, here’s a nice observation from a BBC piece on the subject: In the middle of the 19th Century, Walter Bagehot [noted] the distinction between what he described as the “dignified” and the “efficient” elements of the British constitution. The “dignified”…

Read More "Dignified" v. "efficient"

I’ve just finished reading “Who Knows?: A Study of Religious Consciousness” by the philosopher and inveterate riddler Raymond Smullyan. It’s less of a “study” than a collection of thoughts on three topics, loosely inspired by his reading of Martin Gardner’s “The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener”. The first part is about the relationship between belief…

Read More Is (dis)belief in damnation more important than (dis)belief in God?

I received 56 credits on The Sci Fi Sounds QuizHow much of a Sci-Fi geek are you? Take the Sci-Fi Movie Quiz Canon S5 [Hat tip to Josh, who did a bit better than I did.] UPDATE: Josh suggested that I try this one, too. I’m rather glad that I didn’t score higher than this….…

Read More Bleep… bleep… bleep