So here goes;
- Sci-Fi Smackdown!
So what is it exactly? It's a podcast put together by some uber-geeks who debate the victor between arbitrarily decided opponents from science fiction like;
In a battle between the new Battlestar Galactica and Kirk's Enterprise, who would win?
The answer, (and it only took them three hours of podcasts to finally get to it), is of course, the Enterprise! (phasers, shields AND photon torpedoes...nuff said). Listening to more than one in a row can make you feel like you attended a theological debate between truly deranged teenagers hyped on orange pop and the fresh eruption of hormones, but where else can you get pop culture savvy quotes like "In a drinking contest Scotty would probably beat Tighe, but Tighe would get bored half way through and just punch him out."
Some of the other topics include;
Who wins in a fight between Captain America vs Batman?
The smack-down crew gave it to Cappy, but I hold out that Batman's experience and dirty tactics (along with his utility belt goodies) would cancel out Steve Rogers' superior physical abilities and shield. Easily the closest of the smack-down contests and I can't really blame them for going with the Captain - even though they are wrong.
The most interesting (or least depending on who is reading this blog post) is
The X-men vs Heroes !
(my vote, The X-men, but I am admittedly biased)
Be forewarned, this last smack-down runs over something like 5 podcasts (listener mail takes up two episodes alone) but the outrageous nerdiness of the entire thing leaves me giddy with a sort of sugar high.
My own suggestions for future smackdowns;
- Cylons vs Borg, though it's not clear to me that the Cylons don't meet the same exact fate as the Galactica vs Enterprise.
- Deep Space 9 vs Babylon 5 (this is an absolute MUST battle - we have to make this happen)
- Also, a Dr. Who and his sonic screwdriver vs Spock and his tri-corder/phaser smack-down is intriguing to consider. Or, perhaps a Dr. Who vs Gary Seven battle of the futuristic techno-magi?
And now for something completely different. Over at Slate, one of my favourite thinkers William Saletan considers the efficacy of 'Progressive Bio-ethics'. I'm not quoting from it because I think it's worth reading the whole thing.
The Wall Street Journal gets it's opinion in on the rise of 'The New Atheism'
Profitability is not the only feature distinguishing today's fashionable disbelief from the varieties of atheism that have arisen over the millennia. Unlike the classical atheism of Epicurus and Lucretius, which rejected belief in the gods in the name of pleasure and tranquility, the new new atheism rejects God in the name of natural science, individual freedom and human equality. Unlike the Enlightenment atheism of the 18th century, which arose in a still predominantly religious society and which frequently went to some effort to disguise or mute its disbelief, the new new atheism proclaims its hatred of God and organized religion loudly and proudly from the rooftops. And unlike the anti-modern atheism of Nietzsche and Heidegger, which regarded the death of God as a catastrophe for the human spirit, the new new atheism sees the loss of religious faith in the modern world as an unqualified good, lamenting only the perverse and widespread resistance to shedding once and for all the hopelessly backward belief in a divine presence in history.- Berkowitz
Berkowitz is most interesting in the above paragraph, because what he really does throughout the rest of the piece is confine his commentary to more or less just the work of Christopher Hitches' latest jeremiad 'God is NOT great'. And while Hitchens is an acerbic writer of tremendous talent, he is also frequently drunk, ranting unhinged and lost in a political wilderness of his own making. As such, he is amazingly fun to read, but hardly a good place to start for defining the 'new atheism' - if such a thing really is 'new' at all.
The neo-socialist atheists at the Guardian take a whack at the phenomenon of successful atheist books with a slightly different skew.
William Kristol, son of Irving, a Straussian, member of the neo-con establishment, and warmongering cheerleader extraordinaire for the invasion of Iraq, has written what is perhaps the single most ludicrous essay I've read in years. It's title? 'Why Bush will be remembered as a winner'.
Let's step back from the unnecessary mistakes and the self-inflicted wounds that have characterized the Bush administration. Let's look at the broad forest rather than the often unlovely trees. What do we see? First, no second terrorist attack on U.S. soil -- not something we could have taken for granted. Second, a strong economy -- also something that wasn't inevitable.
And third, and most important, a war in Iraq that has been very difficult, but where -- despite some confusion engendered by an almost meaningless "benchmark" report last week -- we now seem to be on course to a successful outcome.
So (to rephrase slightly) the reasons why Bush will be remembered as a winner are;
- Al Qaeda was limited to just one devastating act of terrorism that could have been prevented if anyone competent was paying attention.
- The outrageous spending spree by a Republican congress coupled with profligate borrowing from foreign lenders by the Bush regime hasn't yet bottomed out the American economy, despite the largest entitlement increases EVER, and a national debt that is staggeringly large.
- The pointless, illegal and criminally negligent invasion of a foreign country might yet not result in prolonged defeat for the US armed forces along with Iraq descending into complete and total anarchy - at least not while Bush is still in power.
Gosh, I've been wrong all along, now that I've read Kristol I can see that Bush really is a winner! If by winner you mean 'worst President ever'.
Ok, that was really depressing, here's some sound advice from medical officials in New Orleans to cheer us up!
Awesome recommendations all-round.
In the category of 'blogs you will want to check out daily', check out this blog called 'skull a day' where an artist posts his latest piece based on the single theme of 'skulls'.
I dare you not to get addicted to skull.
From my favourite science fiction author's blog (William Gibson) comes this YouTube clip showing the latest in security technology - SUV firepower.
From the 'fun with religion' part of the itrawebs, I found this 'How to start your own religion in 10 easy steps'! As you can see, all is going according to prophecy. Salvation is a limited time offer. Send your money now.
From 'The new Humanist' comes this story about Jesus jokes being censored. I know I'm going to lose my accreditation in the 'guild of overly serious atheists', but this strikes me as being a tempest in a teapot. So someone didn't like your jokes about religion. Get over it, and yourself, already.
Once upon a time, I really, really liked the UN and thought that it could be a force for good and righteous behaviour. Not any more.
From the 'totally freaking cool astronomy sites' file comes 'Exo-Solar' which helps you keep track of the extra-solar planets that have been discovered. And by 'keep track' I mean 'place onto a local 3D map of the nearby galaxy'. Oh. So. Sweet.
Because it is the off-season for both hockey and basketball, I give you this 'Super-Duper Star Theory' about hoops. Interesting how applicable it is to hockey...
And then, just because I still really enjoy my hate Vince Carter, I give you this from the now expired NBA playoff coverage; Brian Windhorst of Akron Beacon-Journal: "A few years back Buster Olney, now with ESPN but then of the New York Times, kept track of how many bats Yankees closer Mariano Rivera broke during a season. I thought that was super cool (in a nerdy beat writer sort of way), so every year I've been on the Cavs beat I tried to keep my own obscure stat. This year I tracked Anderson Varejao's charges taken (78 in the regular season, two so far in the playoffs) because it's not an official stat. If I were to cover the Nets, though, I think I would keep track of the amount of games when Vince Carter goes to a limp. So far in this series it's two."
Among those 'blogs you will want to check out daily' that I mentioned is this terminally addictive website 'the Nietzsche Family Circus' - which pairs a random image from the Family Circus cartoons with one of the philosophers aphorisms. Be sure to send me your favourites!
Faith means not wanting to know what is true.