Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Midnight Snack

Last night, I dreamed that I found a piece of paper. It was somewhat glossy on one side, and less so on the other, and it had loose folds in it. I started to eat it, and, while having a texture a little lighter than that of paper (it wasn't hard to chew), it also had a sweet and earthy taste, like mashed potatoes with a touch of powdered sugar.

The man next to me noticed what I was doing. It turned out we were at a book signing, and I was eating the dust jacket for the book that this fellow wanted to have signed by some great author. He was quite mad. I apologized profusely for taking bites out of his dust jacket and reassured him that it wasn't that bad, I'd only taken a couple of bites, the dust jacket was mostly there.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Did you know that hummus can go bad?

My hummus went bad. It was acidic and fizzed when it touched my tongue.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Three Unacceptable Jelly Belly Jelly Bean Flavors

"You can tell a lot about a fella's character by whether he picks out all of one color or just grabs a handful." said President Ronald Reagan about jelly beans. Well, President Reagan Who Is Unfortunately Now Dead, what would you think of my character if I told you this?

There are three flavors of Jelly Belly jelly beans that I find plainly unacceptable. Most of them, assuredly, are delicious, such as Toasted Marshmallow, Coconut, and Lemon Lime. Gourmet jelly beans they are, indeed. However, only grandpas like Licorice, so there is no reason for that flavor to exist. Also, the Chocolate Pudding Jelly Belly jelly beans taste really artificial, like the chocolate-flavored fluoride treatments the dentist gave me when I was a child.

The worst flavor, though, is Buttered Popcorn. It is not that the flavor is anything but delicious, it is not that the flavor is artificial. No, the flavor is too real, so whenever I eat Buttered Popcorn Jelly Belly jelly beans, I am always probing my gums with my tongue, to find bits of kernel that might have gotten stuck. There are no kernels to be found. My tongue says that Buttered Popcorn Jelly Belly jelly beans taste like Futility.

What do you say to that, Mr. President?

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Shady Side of Wisdom

In a previous post, I mentioned the article The Shady Side of Wisdom by George Mendenhall. In this article, Mendenhall uses linguistic evidence to demonstrate a late date of authorship for the first few chapters of Genesis, and exegetes the text in that cultural context. The major conclusion of this paper, that I was referring to, is not just that Genesis 1-3 can be read figuratively, but that reading them literally does injustice to the text, because a literal reading was not intended. If you want a copy of the article, let me know.

Abba Abraham and the man who had no passions

It was said of an old man that for fifty years he had neither eaten bread nor drunk wine readily. He even said, "I have destroyed fornication, avarice and vain-glory in myself." Learning that he had said this, Abba Abraham came and said to him, "Did you really say that?" He answered "Yes." Then Abba Abraham said to him, "If you were to find a woman lying on your mat when you entered your cell would you think that it is not a woman?" "No," he replied, "But I should struggle against my thoughts so as not to touch her." Then Abba Abraham said, "Then you have not destroyed the passion, but it still lives in you although it is controlled. Again, if you are walking along and you see some gold amongst the stones and shells, can your spirit regard them all as of equal value?" "No," he replied, "But I would struggle against my thoughts, so as not to take the gold." The old man said to him, "See, avarice still lives in you, though it is controlled." Abba Abraham continued, "Suppose you learn that of two brothers, one loves you while the other hates you, and speaks evil of you; if they come to see you, will you receive them both with the same love?" "No," he replied, "But I should struggle against my thoughts so as to be as kind towards the one who hates me as towards the one that loves me." Abba Abraham said to him, "So then, the passions continue to live; it is simply that they are controlled by the saints."

From The Sayings of the Desert Fathers, translated by Benedicta Ward.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Another Desk Calendar Problem, The Worst Artificial Flavor

I just realized I have another problem with my joke-a-day desk calendar. The joke for today is the one about the duck that walks into a bar, and asks for pickles. If you don't know it, ask me, I'll tell you sometime. IT IS HILARIOUS. Except, the way the joke is told on the calendar, the duck doesn't ask for pickles, he asks for bread. The joke is substantially less funny when the duck asks for bread instead of pickles. Consequently, I have a subconscious urge to rip off today's page, displaying tomorrow's. At some point today, I might well do this without thinking. But, then, the date on the calendar will be incorrect.

For the remainder of the year, whenever an unfunny or poorly told joke is on my calendar, I'll have to resist the urge to proceed to a funny joke.

Also, the calendar came in a box shaped like Chinese take-a-way boxes. This is what drew me to the calendar initially, but, now, I don't get the connection between Chinese food and a joke-a-day desk calendar.

And now, a brief quiz:
Q. What is the worst artificial flavor?
A. Banana

Desk Calendar

I finished all of my Yubotu puzzles, so I popped in today at Barnes and Noble to pick up another book of puzzles. While I was there, I found a joke-a-day- desk calendar for $1. I bought it.

Dr. Seidman has three calendars on the wall of his office, none set to the right month, none even from the right year. One is at September 1966.

So, since I bought my calendar in February, I went ahead and peeled off all the jokes for January and saved them. I'll read through them slowly over the next month, and memorize each.

The only gripe that I have with the calendar is that it doesn't have the day of the week printed on it. This is really bad, because I typically have to think a minute to recall what the day of the week is. I often forget what season it is, and this is why I'm often seen wearing shorts in the winter.

Oh! I just realized that the day of the week is actually printed on the calendar. The jokes are that good.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Talking about Creationism

Creationism, young earth creationism especially, makes me mad.

Creation science is a misnomer. Anywhere on the creation spectrum, from young earth creationism to intelligent design, the bulk of time, energy, and money is going into trying to work politically to get creationism taught in public schools, and in efforts at creation science evangelism. Very little real science work -- gathering data, doing experiments, and analyzing the data as part of the mainstream scientific community -- is being done.

When Christians leave a gospel tract instead of a tip at a restaurant, or when we bug out co-workers about Jesus, but show up at work late and take long lunch breaks, we're unable to proclaim the gospel with words, because we're saying the exact opposite without them. In precisely the same way, why ought we expect responsible, methodical, hard-working scientists to listen to Christians when creationists throw spurious, ill-posed, ignorant arguments at them?

At the same time, the mainstream academic community hasn't done much to address creationist fallacies directly. If you went to Barnes and Noble, thinking, say, "I heard that the earth must be young because its magnetic field is decaying so quickly, but I want to see what mainstream science has to say about this claim," you wouldn't be able to find a book that directly addresses that statement.

I know that a hefty chunk of my readers are somewhere on the creationist spectrum. I'd like to do a series of blog posts specifically addressing the issues you raise with cosmic origin, abiogenesis, the age of the earth, and evolution. Also, I'm quite sure that the major reason why creationists are creationists is not that they are compelled to believe as they do from the science, but, first, because they want to take Genesis seriously. However, I think that there's a distinction between taking Genesis seriously and taking it literally, and I'd like to talk about that some, too.

Here's are some questions I have for you:
  1. Where on the creation spectrum, from young earth to atheistic evolution, do you land?
  2. Do you use arguments relating to creation when you do apologetics?
  3. What are your reasons, scientific and theological, for believing as you do?