Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Chomsky vs. Kamm - Heaven or Hell: FIGHT

Oliver Kamm has, following a criticism of Chomsky in Prospect, been defending Emma Brockes's interview with Chomsky in The Guardian, which was recently removed due to supposed inaccuracies. Kamm, in several posts, defends the factual accuracy of Brockes's claims, mostly dealing with Chomsky's literal support, not just defence, of genocide-denying Diana Johnstone. He condemns The Guardian for kowtowing.

I just sent this email to Kamm:

Something I wonder, in the middle of this mess, is why, if Chomsky is - as his defenders claim him to be - such a friend of free speech, he is going to great lengths to defend the right of people such as Faurisson and Johnstone, who are plainly wrong, to say what they want without suffering the slightest bit of consequence yet not defending Ms. Brockes's right to criticize him without having her column pulled. By his unorthodox definition of censorship, is he not violating his own principles?
Read more.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Dashboard Confessional = Richard Marx

I have yet to hear a defence against the assertion that "emo" is anything more than a retread of cheesy eighties soft rock.

Takers? Read more.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Identity

Question 113: What are the sins forbidden in the third commandment?

Answer: The sins forbidden in the third commandment are, the not using of God's name as is required; and the abuse of it in an ignorant, vain, irreverent, profane, superstitious, or wicked mentioning, or otherwise using his titles, attributes, ordinances, or works, by blasphemy, perjury; all sinful cursings, oaths, vows, and lots; violating of our oaths and vows, if lawful; and fulfilling them, if of things unlawful; murmuring and quarreling at, curious prying into, and misapplying of God's decrees and providences; misinterpreting, misapplying, or any way perverting the Word, or any part of it, to profane jests, curious or unprofitable questions, vain janglings, or the maintaining of false doctrines; abusing it, the creatures, or anything contained under the name of God, to charms, or sinful lusts and practices; the maligning, scorning, reviling, or anywise opposing of God's truth, grace, and ways; making profession of religion in hypocrisy, or for sinister ends; being ashamed of it, or a shame to it, by unconformable, unwise, unfruitful, and offensive walking, or backsliding from it.


That's from the Westminster Larger Catechism. I've always found it an interesting doctrinal point because it replies to, "What's in a name," "Everything." A rose by any other name may smell just as sweet, but a poem with any other word may not sound just as nice. Words are arbitrary, true. That doesn't lessen their importance. Gamers have a habit of naming themselves the same thing every time. People carry internet personas around, creating the same profile for however many websites and chat programs. You can mention a person to me and memories flood into my mind. A person by any other name would not force the same memories; they are inexorably tied. Those people are my memories, whether they want to be or not.

My friend Todd, whose real name is Lionel Nelson Humphreys IV, told me that I should start going by my middle name, Elijah. He might be right; it's a good name. But, you know, I'm Tim. Everyone knows me as Tim. Wouldn't I be betraying them a little bit? I've always told people, in response to accusations of weirdness, that I'm just Tim. Everyone knows what it means, by now. That name has become something else - an identity rather than a title. An adjective rather than a noun. Only one person has ever told me that didn't make sense. She didn't know me very well.

Sometimes I wonder why people identify themselves by anything other than their names. That contemptible bunch known as "gamers" - what the hell are they doing? Classifying themselves by a hobby leads to ridiculous confrontation. The problem is, for many of them, videogames are life. They end up idolizing them, taking them too seriously, waiting in line for a million hours for an Xbox 360. Music lovers do it too. I used to take joy in telling people I hated their music. That was in high school, when everyone was busy listening to the All American Rejects or some equally asinine Channel One music. Mitch Clem wrote someting on Nothing Nice once about how punks took themselves too seriously, that they should be more laid back like indie fans. That was just before the age of hipsters. Good Lord - never tell someone you don't care for Modest Mouse. You'd think you've just denied the Holocaust. I'm in the habit now of not talking about music at all. It's inevitable I'll piss someone off, and he or she will freak out. Of course, I'm guilty of it too; see: zombie movies. (I like to think that comes from something other than an identity issue.) We are not what we watch / read / listen to / vote for, etc. We are not our opinions. This is an important point; people spend their time looking for others whose opinions are congruent with their own, perhaps in hopes that it will diminish arguments. Their time would be better spent looking for someone who isn't argumentative. Or, if they're looking to force their own entertainment on others, look for someone who won't object to such things. And so on. My favorite movie critic is Roger Ebert. I agree with him perhaps a quarter of the time.

A lot follows from this, but the consequences are different for everyone. It's strange that so many people take this and turn it into "parents just don't understand." (In fact, it's always strange when someone takes a characterization that's true for all people and applies it to one group - that's another story.) The implication for me is that it's a-ok to stay locked in my room all day. Basically. Read more.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Why I tend toward isolation

There's no need to repeat yourself to infinity when someone disagrees with you. Read more.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Mental funda whosa whatsit

Luke 13, 1-5:
There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."

Need another?

John 9, 1-3:
As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him."

This isn't to say that God never punishes sinners on earth directly for their sins (see: David). The point is, we don't know why. When we say that we can divine God's intent by any disaster, misfortune, etc., we're laying another brick on our very own Tower of Babel we can't seem to notice we've created.

Or, in other words, self-righteousness is sin. (I would argue one of the greatest - the cornerstone of Pharisaical heresy.) Pat Robertson's a little confused if he thinks some random people in Pennsylvania are all going to die shrieking horrors because they make a separation between science and philosophy. He's no better than they are.

And isn't that the point of Christianity? Isn't that the recurrent theme of all of Jesus' teachings? Not that, as many interpret, all judgement is forbidden and everybody's okay, but that nobody is okay.

On a related note, why do we reserve the term "fundamentalist" for people who are unfamiliar with the fundamentals? Do we mean the fundamentals of (in my opinion mistaken) Christian tradition, or do we mean the fundamentals of the Bible? If the latter, I'll gladly cling to the label myself. Read more.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Nerd Search



At first, I was happy to find that the answers were actually there (though I would expect no less from Bill Amend), but I was disappointed to find a mistake - the Riemann Sum of x^2 from 0 to 47 is 34607.66... or 34608, rounded. It's nowhere to be found. I guessed that maybe "34677" was a mistake and circled that. It's also possible that Amend used an inaccurate calculation (average from the left or right, low N), but that's not quite fair to us. He should be using the exact answer a calculator's fnInt function would provide.

Edit: I lose my nerd badge. Someone in this Comics Curmudgeon thread corrected my error: It's not a Riemann Sum, just a sum of the squares. Though, in my defense, I had never even seen the Sum symbol until I got to Calc II. Association problems.

Here's the correct solution:
Read more.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

It's bad. Have I mentioned that?

From my Comm 101 textbook, Communication Mosaics:

"When we don't agree on punctuation, problems may arise. If you've ever heard children arguing about who started a fight, you understand the importance of punctuation. Communication on the Internet and the World Wide Web often is punctuated differently by different participants who join the dialogue at different times. I once read a message that was a defense of flaming (dramatically disparaging others on the Internet). Because I view flaming as discouraging freedom of speech, I wrote a critical response to the message. The person to whom I wrote replied that the message that disturbed me was a sarcastic reply to an earlier message that I had not seen."


Can you say ? Read more.