I nonetheless liked the idea of visible electronics, and I remember dreaming of a world where everything was built to be radically transparent, where you could see through the cosmetic and superficial, all technology giving up its secrets, spilling its source code—cars, washing machines, computers, governments…
“There is only one God! He is omnipotent. But he only exists on Wednesdays.” That is one of the examples Pascal Boyer gives in Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought (2001) for a presumably unmemorable or unsuccessful religious idea (72). Another is “the gods are watching us and they notice everything we do! […]Read more "Religion Explained Explained"
Delusional Donkişot (Don Quixote), driven mad by books. Armed and armored with antique language and an the outmoded conviction that there is a space for adventures and a need for knights, that he can journey out from the symbolic into real, from chivalric rules to the immersive truth, from the way things should be to […]Read more "Windmills, Language, and the Magic of Taboo"
One way to interpret first contact stories is this: aliens are other people. The whole SETI thing is just a metaphor for making friends. Whether you conceive of extra-terrestrials as ruthless, bug-eyed conquerors or enlightened ambassadors indicates how you feel about other people. Space opera is merely psycho-drama on a galactic scale. Fermi’s paradox might […]Read more "Limits to Existence: Aliens, Birds, Robots"
I hate the covers of books, as much as I love what they conceal. On the second floor of the library, just as I was about to finish Shantaram (a wonderful, glowing novel by Gregory David Roberts) the thin plastic laminate wrapped around the front and back like a cognitive prophylactic began to peel away […]Read more "Cover Story: Life Gets Complicated"
Yesterday I walked into class with a pack full of books, and emptied them onto the table. I’d selected them the night before: non-fiction, poetry, collections of essays and stories, volumes that were for whatever reason important to me, and that I now hoped might dent my student’s apathy and antipathy towards the written word. […]Read more "Horizontal Learning: Two Bags of Books"