33 Things: This Week’s Amusing and Intriguing Links

1. Conservatives would like to enter Exhibit A into evidence for consideration by the court of public opinion on the issue of border security:

“The federal government has posted signs along a major interstate highway in Arizona, more than 100 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border, warning travelers the area is unsafe because of drug and alien smugglers, and a local sheriff says Mexican drug cartels now control some parts of the state.”

2. The most thoughtful discussion on Prop. 8 you’ll hear. Period.

3. Squirrels in the window: a mother squirrel raises several litters in the window of an apartment.

4. What are those bright dots? 10,000 birds trapped in NYC 9/11 memorial lights.

5. Scared of heights? Be glad you don’t have this guy’s job.

6. Predictive Brainology: what can be predicted?

7. The bacon flowchart.

9. Sure it was a popular hoax, but this alleged music machine is still pretty cool.

10. Wookie the Chew and other cartoons in the genre of A.A. Milne meets Star Wars.

11. Even Cthulhu likes to smell nice.

12. Oh the joys of a jack-of-all-trades president: Mr. Obama publishes his first children’s book.

13. Did you know it? Lady Gaga is the “most judgment-free human being on the Earth.” I hope to meet her someday.

14. This Tea Party is serving stronger stuff than you thought: Republic wins labeled as “epic.”

15. The world only gets stranger: doctor carves patient’s name in her uterus.

16. Pets are what makes us human.

17. Ever wonder what it would look like if we drew maps based on how big the continents really are?  Or how many people live there?  It’s an oldie, but a goodie  check out worldmapper.

18. The first photographs of ghosts: still spooky even when you know the trick!

19.  Meet Entborg, the century-old tree that is posting on Facebook

20. Asking advice from the elderly — now scientifically proven to be a good idea!

21. On thinking our own thoughts.

22. I always wished the founding documents were illustrated.

23. If your tattoo was truthful…http://www.mcsweeneys.net/links/lists/

24.  Ever wanted to dig a hole through the center of the earth?  You’re gonna need some help planning your trip through the center of the earth!

25. Drawing Swords Against the Deluge. John C. Wright defends Christian pessimism and meditates on the uses of earthly power. “The battle is hopeless and the war is already won.”

“I am saying this world is base and corrupt and doomed. Place no faith in the world or in the idols of the world. Be not conformed to the world. Instead, vow the vow a soldier vows, who swears never to let his sword sleep in its sheathe, never to retreat, never to surrender, never to let a fallen comrade alone, and to continue to resist even if captured: and I speak of the captivity of addictive sin.”

26. Resentment and the Motions of the Mind

“Professors of Resentment could teach such subdivisions of their subject as the art of rationalisation, rhetorical exaggeration, preservation of a lack of perspective, suppression of a sense of irony or humour, and so on and so forth. Of course, entry requirements would be minimal. All you would have to do to gain entry is to denigrate your parents at a public examination, and there could hardly be found a child nowadays not able to do that. Over the entrance to the faculty will be written not the motto of the Academy, ‘Know thyself,’ but rather ‘Talk about thyself,’ ‘Reveal nothing,’ ‘Remember that there is always someone better off than you’ and, above all, ‘Distinguish not between unfairness and injustice.’”

27. The Zombie Apocalypse: not quite how you pictured it.

28.  The Smithsonian Spills the Beans About Food Idioms. “The origins of some food idioms are a piece of cake to figure out; just use your bean. Others sound so bizarre they could make you go bananas.”

29. A Nation Turns Away From Abortion: It’s not true that abortion statistics are irreversable. Italy proves it.

30. Do Mummies have a right to privacy? Is there something about the human body, dead or alive, that has moral value?
31. Populist Pandering:  Why politicians should not appeal to the lowest common denominator.
32.  An intern at Last.FM maps the users, genders, ages, and music preferences.
33.  Introverts in evangelical America.
“Unfortunately, owing to a few antisocial types as well as to a general extroverted bias in our culture, introverts get a bad rap. Mainstream American culture values gregarious, aggressive people who are skilled in networking and who can quickly turn strangers into friends. Often we identify leaders as those people who speak up the most and the fastest, whether or not their ideas are the best. As a result, introverts are often defined by what we’re not rather than by what we are. We’re labeled as standoffish or misanthropic or timid or passive. But the truth is that we are people who are energized in solitude, rather than among people.”

Billy Graham on Technology and Faith – Lunch w/ TED

Technology has enabled us to accomplish astounding things and solve many problems.  Instantaneous world-wide communication, prolonged life, flight, space travel, deep sea exploration, and more.  Yet with all that technology has changed, with all the problems it has solved, man is left to wrestle with this: the problem of evil.

Continue reading Billy Graham on Technology and Faith – Lunch w/ TED

The Virtues of Capitalism – Book Review

As a quick primer, The Virtues of Capitalism: The Moral Case for Free Markets by Scott Rae and Austin Hill does an excellent job of hitting the talking points and fleshing out some of the back-story of the world’s most powerful economic system.  However, this book only offers a thin analysis of capitalism’s most profound moral and philosophical underpinnings.

Continue reading The Virtues of Capitalism – Book Review

The Future of User Interface – Lunch w/ TED

John Underkoffler believes that the future of User Interface is imbuing computation with space.

In other words, the mouse and icon model will soon give way to computers that understand where in the physical world a thing is located and the computer will be able to interact with objects appropriately in their physical place.  Sound like the stuff of science fiction movies?  It should.

Underkoffler’s talk is very interesting for persons interested in UI or technology in general, but once his talk was over the question naturally arose: “what will be the killer app for this?”  In other words, what will be the thing that makes everyone want to use it?  How can this technology be useful at all?

Well, perhaps the first Iron Man movie will give us a glimpse as to the potential of such technology:

Besides having a coolness factor of +1 trillion, this technology is remarkable for the seismic shift in philosophical concern that seems to under-gird it.   All of the sudden, it matters that things are embodied.

Throughout the centuries, Christianity has been the formative worldview arguing for the importance of the body.  Though our opinion was not necessarily consistent throughout time – some did doubt that God would become embodied lest he take on a form that was beneath Himself – we’ve always been substance dualists, recognizing the importance of the body.  Technologists, on the other hand, were busy pioneering a world which eschewed the physical body in favor of a digital existence, everyone had a chance at a Second Life.  It didn’t matter whether people met physically or digitally, it is still people meeting.

Then Christians adopted new technology into the church and, along with the technology, the assumptions which formed and normalized that technology.  Embodied pastors were passe – video venues were all the rage.  Online Church was just as good as the real thing and LifeChurch, as well as other organizations, painstakingly created venues (the hipe name for Churches) that “mirrored” their real life counterparts.  With the advent of 3D holographic preachers – a new trend sweeping mainstream evangelical America – embodiment, even real existence, is no longer a requirement.

Meanwhile, technologists are remembering that we are embodied creatures and building the kind of technology that interacts with real world place and space.  It’s a complete role reversal.

Personally, I’m greatly encouraged by this new technology.  It is significant that the Lord created us with bodies and souls, that Christ took on the form of a man and that His doing so was integral to the salvation of all those who believe on Him.  Though I hear Evangelicals who defend online church pay lip service to embodiment, at the end of the day I have a hard time seeing where those words manifest themselves meaningfully in the priorities and interests of the pro-online church crowd.  Lord willing, this move by the technologists will cause people to, once again, recall the importance of embodiment and remind us that we all live embodied lives – even if those bodies sit in front of a screen to worship. ‘