Monday, February 27, 2012

Liebster Blog Award

The word "liebster" is a German word for something one likes considerably...  essentially it means "favorite." Apparently, this is among someone's favorite blogs, because I received one.  The reader who happened to put me in that list goes by the handle of "KayEm"...  a literal sounding out of her initials "K.M."  As these particular blog awards are received and passed around among bloggers, she too, is of course, a blogger herself.  Her blog is titled "Never Mind Yaar", which is also the title of her debut novel.  As someone who has known life in India much longer than I have (I spent many more years of my life in Chicago than in India), she is very equipped to write at length about the cultural shifts and divides within India.  Also as a transplant into the land of the Kiwis, she writes quite a great deal about the NRI life.  Although written from a very personally specific point-of-view, it is fair to say that the ultimate message of her posts are applicable to almost anyone.  For instance, her post on the quality of schools may go at some length on the issue of co-ed vs not (I also went to an all-boys school in India), which isn't necessarily relevant to just anybody's experience, but you can't ignore the point she drives at about what the country really needs to do to improve its education...  issues that I've also brought up at my own schools...  problems that the U.S. has as well and get worse in the later years of school.

So with her recommendation, I can now wear this badge.
Among the rules of the Liebster Blog awards, though, is that in addition to mentioning the blogger who awarded it to you, you need to mention 5 other blogs you personally enjoy (who are in turn your own award recipients)...  It's a sort of chain letter award, I guess...  except no one claims that one of your loved ones will die if you fail to send this out.  Well, since there is no absurd superstition tied to it, I'll comply.  So here, in no particular order, are my 5 picks.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Christian Dogma Gone "Deepak Chopra"

It's normal in the course of dealing with creationist dimwits that people are going to reject science and pretty much all facts.  Hell, the entire Republican party is about that.  Even those right-wingers who seem to have some semblance of sanity like Ron Paul throw their hats into the crazy ring on scientific matters.  All the members of the CSE, DI, or whatever fountainhead of creationist stupidity you can imagine all have some fundamentally anti-science bend to them.  Science and intellectual formality are illegal in their minds.  So that's why you always hear these sorts of self-defeating arguments like saying that "science always changes, but the Bible remains the same"...  which in turn only demonstrates that religion is all about never learning from mistakes and simply digging your heels deeper in the mud after the mud has been smeared on your face.

Hinduism and many of its offshoots have always seemed to have had a different approach to taking on scientific discovery.  Rather than taking some new discovery and shouting "that's HERESY!! BURN THE FOUL WRETCH!!!", Hindu apologists always seem to reinterpret some bit of religious literature (or create new literature on the spot) to say that ancient philosophers knew it all the time.  One thing about Hinduism, being what I call "disorganized religion", is that people create random tales all the time that just become accepted as canonical within a localized community, and in essence, everything becomes ancient and traditional because nobody remembers how these legends made their way into the ether of random noise.  As such, it is very easy to just find one or twist its otherwise vague meaning to match what science says and posture in that "I told you so" kind of way.  A good example of this would be how people twist the Dasha Avatara (10 avatars) of Vishnu into something that shows ancient people already knew about evolution...  citing that the order of the avatars vaguely resembles the evolutionary line of humans (fish, aquatic reptile, terrestrial mammal, half-man-half-beast, pygmy/hobbit, followed by a series of homo sapiens)...

Modern scientific knowledge, especially quantum mechanics, happens to get a lot more detailed, and thus a lot more specific, and a lot more difficult to comprehend, which makes it hard to really fit it in so nicely with ancient pseudo-intellectual ramblings.  But then you have guys like Deepak Chopra who found that because it's so difficult to grasp and even serious scientists will tell you its virtually impossible to explain in layman's terms, you can pretty much make anything sound right by taking advantage of the general public's lack of understanding.

Well, it seems Christians are also taking a page out of Chopra's playbook.  Apparently, quantum theory proves everything Jesus ever said...

Friday, February 10, 2012

History Channel must change its name to Comedy Central

It is a funny thing when the single most trusted source of news in the country (and quite possibly the most trustworthy source in the world) is Jon Stewart.  In some ways, it's all but inevitable, because as a comedian, it's part of his job to tell it like it is.  He also comes off much more impartial than most people because he is just as prone to rip on the likes of Obama for double-talk bullcrap to hide a failure as he is to rip on the likes of Rick Santorum for...  being Rick Santorum.  So all of a sudden, you find the comedy on Comedy Central to be worthy of note not simply because somebody said something funny, but because somebody made a point which is just so true.  It's something you tend not to find on other channels. 

Once upon a time, I rather enjoyed the History Channel.  Though the schedule was largely dominated by the show Modern Marvels at the time, I would still have categorized that as "history" since it at least addressed how various industries have progressed over the years.  Some time after that, though, it degraded from the History Channel to the History-of-World-War-II Channel.  I'll admit I was fairly impressed when they apparently displayed rare color footage of Nazi rallies.  That at least was a significant find.  Nonetheless, it more than slightly saddens me what has become of it.  It's become a sea of pointless reality shows about the mundane lives of blue-collar rednecks and bizarre competitions.  Sure, there's Top Gear, but the American version still pales before the Brits.  I suppose I could say the same for all the networks out there -- Discovery has also become a sad collection of meaningless reality shows...  TLC went from Discovery Lite to being all about home improvement and psychics...  G4 was once a channel about gaming, and the most frequent show on there now seems to be Cops.  Lately, when History Channel does show something to do with history, chances are 50-50 that it's going to be about the last stand of the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae.

History Channel, however, still has a saving grace for me in the random noise that makes up its content that makes the channel worth watching -- and that's the series titled Ancient Aliens.  Don't get me wrong;  I don't find it thought-provoking or worthy of consideration in a serious academic sense.  It's just outstandingly hilarious.  It's like a never-ending Monty Python sketch, except these people are actually dead serious.