Monthly Archives: December 2009

As a Political Statement, after this New Year’s Weekend, My Wife and I are Moving Our Money from Our Current Big Bank to a Small Bank

Here’s a video that explains what we’re doing, and why: Join us? Other than the inconvenience of the shift, if you move your money to a credit union or small community bank, your accounts are still FDIC insured. Visit this website … Continue reading

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Evolution v. Intelligent Design Watch: Jerry Fodor’s Anti-Natural Selection Argument for Beginners

Perhaps you’ve heard some buzz about an anti-Darwin book, coming out in February of 2010, by an atheist philosopher and cognitive scientist by the name of Jerry Fodor. Curious, I searched the web a bit to see if I could find out—before the … Continue reading

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I Watched Nova’s Two Hour Evo Devo Documentary on PBS Tonight

Wow. It was really, really good, and it will be out on DVD in a couple of months (March 30th, 2010). Here’s the link to pre-order it from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/What-Darwin-Never-Knew-n/dp/B0031SZER2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1262157140&sr=8-1 Two interesting things I learned: The weakening of the human … Continue reading

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An MLA Report on Close Reading

With the Modern Language Association (MLA) conference going on right now in Philadelphia, I notice that Inside Higher Ed  quotes an MLA report on the importance of teaching literature to undergraduates: Sustained, deep engagements with literary works and literary language open perceptions of structure, … Continue reading

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Quote of the Day (and Funny)

From David Berlinski’s book, The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions (Basic Books, 2009, 16-17): Why should a limited and finite organ such as the human brain have the power to see into the heart of matter and mathematics? … Continue reading

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NOVA’s Two Hour Special, “What Darwin Never Knew”, Airs Tonight at 8:00 PM

It’s about evo devo. Here is the Nova website for more information:  http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/beta/evolution/darwin-never-knew.html And Amazon is taking orders for the DVD here: http://www.amazon.com/What-Darwin-Never-Knew-n/dp/B0031SZER2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1262133114&sr=8-1

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Jerry Coyne’s “Why Evolution is True”: Intelligent Design in Checkmate?

I’ve finally gotten around to reading atheist biologist Jerry Coyne’s book, Why Evolution is True (Viking, 2009), and if you follow this blog, you know that, as a religion-friendly agnostic, I’m not always sympatico with Coyne’s most strident and obnoxious atheist postings at his blog … Continue reading

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Counting Ants—or Ants Counting?

A bizarre story from National Public Radio. Desert ants appear to count their steps from nest to food source, and then count their way back again! Yes, you read that right. Some ants count. Here’s the link to the story: … Continue reading

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Atheist Optimism vs. Atheist Pessimism: The Case of Thomas Hardy

Contemporary post-9/11 New Atheists are so, well, sunny, aren’t they? Perhaps it’s a product of our contemporary advertising culture, but it’s hard to distinguish this American atheist bus ad from a Mentos breath mint commercial: Minty and refreshing? As an … Continue reading

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Philosopher Thomas Nagel’s New Collection of Essays on Religion, Politics, and Humanity is Excellent

Thomas Nagel’s Secular Philosophy and the Religious Temperament: Essays 2002-2008  (Oxford 2010) is a breeze to read, and at just 168 pages can pretty much be read in a day. Nagel’s enormous strength (akin to Richard Rorty’s) is his calm explanatory clarity. He is … Continue reading

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What Did Friedrich Nietzsche Take from Charles Darwin?

Answer: A lot. Most specifically, contingency (chance), and the implications of contingency upon meaning. Prior to Charles Darwin there were a lot of 19th century people who believed that evolution must have occurred in some form, but they thought about … Continue reading

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Some Perpective on the New Year: A Bit of Pessimistic Buddha-Wisdom from Arthur Schopenhauer (and Monty Python)

A little something to keep life and the New Year in perspective. Arthur Schopenhauer, from Book 1, Section 16 of The World as Will and Representation (1818, translated from the German by E.F. Payne): For whenever a man in any … Continue reading

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Have Yourself a Perky Little Christmas

This strikes me as what Christmas is like after a bit too much coffee:

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Denyse O’Leary on the Signal and the Set (the Mind and the Brain)

I see that Denyse O’Leary, the co-author of The Spiritual Brain (a book I recommend), has a blog. Here she is offering a non-reductionist analogy for the mind’s relationship to the brain (it might be like a television signal in relation to a television set):  Non-materialist neuroscience, … Continue reading

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The Ideal vs. the Real: Our Kitchen as Plato’s Cave

The image that was on the side of the gingerbread house kit box wasn’t exactly what my three and six year old ended up making:

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Barack Obama and the Long Game

A reader at Andrew Sullivan’s blog today made a profound observation: [T]he New Deal, arguably the most significant change in our government since the revolution, didn’t include healthcare, didn’t desegregate the schools, etc.  Only a George Bush thinks that the … Continue reading

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To What Shall I Liken Intelligent Design?

Something I read recently that Thomas Nagel wrote alighted in me an analogy concerning Intelligent Design’s relation to evolution. It’s an analogy that I’ve never seen anyone else make. Here it is: I believe that I have free will. By all appearances … Continue reading

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At Monticello, Thomas Jefferson Possessed a Copy of the Koran

Did you know that? I noticed a mention of this fact in Barack Obama’s Cairo speech: I know, too, that Islam has always been a part of America’s story. The first nation to recognize my country was Morocco. In signing … Continue reading

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Have Yourself a Maoist Little Christmas?

The far right is making a bit of hay about some of the baubles (“Images of communists and transvestites, oh my!”) on the White House Christmas tree this year, and Andrew Sullivan characterizes the feigned outrage as a form of paranoid … Continue reading

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Evolution v. Intelligent Design Watch: Thomas Nagel Nails It

In his new collection of essays (just released by Oxford University Press), Thomas Nagel’s essay on Intelligent Design is included. In that essay, Nagel makes a striking and ironic observation about ID’s relation to science. Since ID is the inverse … Continue reading

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