Saturday, January 26, 2008

Moving Napoleonic Lithography

Cool. Taking of the Great Redoubt of Raievski at Borodino in a "moving lithograph" set up the music of Wagner. It just doesn't get any better than that!

Reza Aslan vs. Sam Harris Debate - Part 2

Reza Aslan vs. Sam Harris Debate - Part 1

Why Are Americans So Angry?

A Charge to Keep

Charge to Keep

Heh. Too funny.

Lost Cities of the Ancients: The Dark Lords of Hattusha

Analogies abound...

Friday, January 25, 2008

The View From The End Of The World

An audio only presentation, from a lecture thattook place in the Conference Center Golden Gate Room, San Francisco.


With gentle demeanor and tight argument, Sam Harris carried an overflow audience into the core of one of the crucial issues of our time: What makes some religions lethal? How do they employ aggressive irrationality to justify threatening and controlling non-believers as well as believers? What should be our response?

Harris began with Christianity. In the US, Christians use irrational arguments about a soul in the 150 cells of a 3-day old human embryo to block stem cell research that might alleviate the suffering of millions. In Africa, Catholic doctrine uses tortured logic to actively discourage the use of condoms in countries ravaged by AIDS.

"This is genocidal stupidity," Harris said. Faith trumps rational argument. Common-sense ethical intuition is blinded by religious metaphysics.

In the US, 22% of the population are CERTAIN that Jesus is coming back in the next 50 years, and another 22% think that it's likely.

The good news of Christ's return, though, can only occur following desperately bad news. Mushroom clouds would be welcomed. "End time thinking," Harris said, "is fundamentally hostile to creating a sustainable future."

Harris was particularly critical of religious moderates who give cover to the fundamentalists by not challenging them. The moderates say that all is justified because religion gives people meaning in their life. "But what would they say to a guy who believes there's a diamond the size of a refrigerator buried in his backyard? The guy digs out there every Sunday with his family, cherishing the meaning the quest gives them."

"I've read the books," Harris said. "God is not a moderate." The Bible gives strict instructions to kill various kinds of sinners, and their relatives, and on occasion their entire towns. Yet slavery is challenged nowhere in the New or Old Testaments; slave holders in the old south used the Bible to defend their practice. The religious texts have power because they are old, but they are also hopelessly out of date because they are old.

It's taboo among religious moderates to compare religions, said Harris, but we must. "Where are the Tibetan Buddhist suicide bombers? For that matter, where are the Palestinian Christian suicide bombers--- they're as Arab and aggrieved as anyone." The fundamental beliefs of Islam really are a problem. "Martyrdom in jihad is not a fringe doctrine; it is believed by millions of Muslims." It's not a question of ignorance... two-thirds of al Qaeda operatives are college educated.

"We have no reason to expect to survive our religious differences indefinitely. Faith is intrinsically divisive. We have a choice between conversation and war." It was conversation that ended slavery, not faith. "Faith is a declaration of immunity to conversation. To make religious war unthinkable, we have to undermine the dogma of faith. The continuance of civilization requires not moderation, but reason."

Harris ended by lauding meditation and mysticism as a form of experiential science, and observed, "The wisdom of contemplative life is not evenly distributed. The East has more than the West."

Lost Worlds: The Seven Wonders

What the Ancients Did for Us: The Greeks

BTs Explained: The Grand Unifying Theory

Yeah, it's one of those "Ah-Ha!" moments that Archimedes is renowned for.

Brave Sir Robin, Err, Ryan...


Things You Don’t Understand About Russia

Your Cryptic Moment of Harper


Enough Already

A Lousy Piece of Paper


Adventure Up The Info-Stream

Just what sort of a media environment would we have if this cynical douchebag actually got her way? CTV, CanWest Global and… um, well that’s about it. Gee, that would be just super, wouldn’t it?

Update: LOL.

Is Prof. Charlie Nesson Insane?

Possibly. But perhaps in a “good” sort of way. He proposes that the presidential candidates be forced to play poker. This is similar to my own suggestion that they be subjected to a round of “Jeopardy!” to demonstrate their general knowledge. So maybe I too am insane. Or even a “dumbfuck” according to some.

The (Perpetual) Oil Thing…

“On 5 November 1914, Great Britain declares war on the Ottoman Empire. The next day, British troops land at the southern tip of Iran. Their mission: to protect the oil fields in nearby Abadan…”

h/t: Unambiguously Ambidextrous

Thursday, January 24, 2008

What the Ancients Did for Us: The Indians

Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue – Part 2

Why they can't join these fucking clips up mystifies me completely.

Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue – Part 1

A tad ponderous (typical Bernstein… what can you say?), but an otherwise decent rendition of the quintessential American classic. Is it possible not to think of New York when hearing this?

A Tale of Three Little Pigs

Hey, it’s just “The Three Little Pigs”… I mean it can’t be taken as anything other than a harmless story about pigs in a children’s story, that happen to build houses, right? It’s not like other interpretations could be drawn from it. Heaven forbid!

The Korova Milk Bar

Again, “La Gazza Ladra” is a magnificent overture — but the whole rest of this opera is utterly forgettable tripe. Apparently, Rossini chucked it off in some kind of frenzied dementia, hurling sheets of hastily scribbled music out the window to his copyists. Doubtful, but it makes for a colourful story.

The GOP’s “Whizzo Quality Assortment”

CC reviews the goods presently on offer from the Grand Old Party.

Herbert Von Karajan: Tannhäuser - Part 2

Thank goodness for overtures. Opera is insufferable otherwise.

Herbert Von Karajan: Tannhäuser - Part 1

Ugh. Having skimmed the round-up of daily idiocy, it's time for some refreshment from another Dick.

Unequivocally Stupid

The Center of Something

The sorry delusions of those who pretend to be “non-partisan” centrists.

Lest We Forget….

Crushing Irony

Bored? Nothing better to do…? I suppose you could go here and “vote” for the “best” gardening blog... or something.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Aussie Cool

Bloody Hell

There’s something highly curious about this particular ad campaign by Quantas and the Australian government. Can you imagine promoting tourism to Canada, the United States or Britain in the same manner? By the way, that website is terrific.

On the Road With Pamela Wallen – Part 2

How’s that whole “peacekeeping” and “reconstruction” thing going?

On the Road With Pamela Wallen – Part 1

The Swiss Army: More Than Knives!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Lost Cities of the Ancients: The Vanished City of the Pharaoh

Gore Vidal: Things Fall Apart...


"We are totally off course."

Your Moment of... Columbo

An Occurrence Of Jethro Tull...

A rebuttal of sorts to that “Darkside of the Rainbow” set of videos. By the way, in case you didn’t know, Ambrose Bierce, the author of the short story on which this curious little film (and a “Twilight Zone” episode!) is based upon and uses as background/subtext to Ian Anderson’s wonderfully flatulent musical diatribe, was the author of the venerable “Devil’s Dictionary” – a highly recommended compilation of cynical aphorisms.

Film Spoiler: Biggles is just writing up his memoirs in Cornwall.

Relapsed Irony

Crushing Irony

There’s that damn-blasted “ad sense” at work again. Here, we see the ever-mysterious algorithms of the Googlicious Intertubes® linking up the obligatory legal backpedaling away from libelous comments made by shrieking midget racist Kathy Shaidle with an advertisement imploring us to “be sweet” and patronize for all our needs on yet another phony, commercial “holiday” wherein we trade toxic, fattening confections as a way of expressing “love” for all and sundry under the imprimatur of some obscure Catholic saint.

Captain Future: Man of Tomorrow!

Twighlight of the Idol

Update: If this article in the Globe & Mail is accurate, then all that can be said of the findings of the “blue-ribbon panel of eminent Canadians” is easily summed up in three words: COMPLETELY FUCKING USELESS.

Richard Dawkins: Science, Delusion & the Appetite for Wonder - Part 4

Richard Dawkins: Science, Delusion & the Appetite for Wonder - Part 3

Richard Dawkins: Science, Delusion & the Appetite for Wonder - Part 2

The points Dawkins makes here are music to my ears. I’ve been saying this for years… Especially when it comes to maths; something at which I completely hopeless at, but yet find absolutely fascinating.

Richard Dawkins: Science, Delusion & the Appetite for Wonder - Part 1

Monday, January 21, 2008

Dark Side of the Rainbow: Part 1

Well, and so on. There's quite a number of little three minute parts that follow expanding on this idea. Why they all couldn't be strung together into one video is quite beyond me.

Isaiah Berlin: The Making of a Hedgehog - Part 6

Isaiah Berlin: The Making of a Hedgehog - Part 5

Isaiah Berlin: The Making of a Hedgehog - Part 4

Isaiah Berlin: The Making of a Hedgehog - Part 3

Democratic Primaries Explained

Do the Math

Think about it...

Isaiah Berlin: The Making of a Hedgehog - Part 2

Isaiah Berlin: The Making of a Hedgehog - Part 1

The presenter is Michael Ignatieff.

Robert Fripp: Exposure

"It is impossible to achieve the aim without suffering." — J.G. Bennett

Signs of the Times: 01,21,08

Instant Death-$200 Fine

J. H. Kunstler: The Tragedy of Suburbia

Somewhat ironically sponsored by BMW. Heh.

Penn & Teller: Bullshit! — Creationism

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Bill Moyers Journal: Clinton, Obama, King and Johnson

Stay the Course

Stay the Course!

Gee, what a surprise.

The Big Idea: Part 3 - Noam Chomsky v Andrew Marr

The Big Idea: Part 2 - Noam Chomsky v Andrew Marr

The Big Idea: Part 1 - Noam Chomsky v Andrew Marr