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Exit ArchiveArchive for the "Society" Category

Thanks to some satellite pictures of housing developments—many of them unfinished—in Florida and a coincidental link at Daring Fireball, I have re-visited a post from 2006 about Walt’s film pitch for EPCOT.

I have to say, the mixed-use phenomenon has grown out of control in the last 4½ years. Since The Grove, an incredible number of mixed-use projects have been finished. The Americana in Glendale, by the same folks who did The Grove, is truly mixed-use, with living space above the actual mall, overlooking it.

Then there’s City Center in Vegas, which I just visited last week. It’s a sprawling mix of hotels, condos, office buildings, shops, galleries, and, of course, casinos.

The problem with every single one of these developments is their lack of integration into the surrounding environment. I don’t mean visually, but practically. In L.A., these large developments have not properly taken into account the impact of their presence on the rest of the city around them. Traffic is worse, parking is impossible (unless you want to shell out cash, which is like being robbed), crowds get unbearable. Part of EPCOT’s purpose was an attempt to harmonize the mess of traffic and congestion that is a city. Some people love the cacophony of a messy, crowded, traffic-jammed city. I’m thinking New York, Chicago… I don’t know a single person who likes the congestion and traffic of Los Angeles. Maybe because the city’s soul seems to spring from this source. L.A. is defined by it’s clogged arteries. How tragic.

Again, a 100% planned city is a bit creepy and strange, but maybe that’s because no one’s yet done it correctly. I’m not a fan of any of these mixed-use monstrosities that have sprouted lately, and I’d rather sleep under my office desk every night than go home to a condo over a Lululemon. Such places are built solely for commercial reasons, with no thought to, as Walt said, “the public need.” No one needs The Americana or City Center. They solve no problems. But EPCOT, had it grown into something like Walt pitched in that movie, might have drawn my interest. Maybe it would have succeeded, and been an inspiring mix of technology, progress, and design.

Maybe. Who knows? But the thought of it is still exciting to ponder.

Sorry I have not posted in a while (except on Twitter). This post will be sad for many of you, because I’m revealing some of my Los Angeles driving habits. These are sad habits. Trust me, I could fill a book with my observations on driving in L.A., and I’ve been meaning to do some nice, long, hopefully funny posts about it here on The Wren Forum. I doubt that will happen anytime soon. Consider the below to be but a glimpse into my world of L.A. driving.

The moment I first hit the L.A. freeways in my little green Civic, September, 1994, I’d just driven from Colorado, and could not believe the chaos and congestion in my new city. I got my Disney job not long after, and I have been doing the 34-mile round-trip commute for over 13 years. That’s plenty of time to learn I had to become a different kind of driver if I were to survive.

On the 101 East this morning, as I was coming into work, I saw a big, red Cadillac with the license plate DR AGAPE (license plate holder: “Motion Picture and Television Fund: We Protect Our Own”) ease from the right lane into my lane, cutting off the car in front of me. They practically scraped bumpers. Now, the car I was behind was one of those annoying “maintain 40 car lengths” kind of drivers, and I do my best to not to stay behind these types. Keeping a gap is safe, sure, but there’s a difference between safe and paranoid, in my book. I understand another driver’s need to get in front of such a driver, trust me. But not like this. DR AGAPE did not need to cut so close to this guy, he just did because, well, obviously, he’s the only driver on the road.

So nearing the 134, I had to do my usual lane change to make it to the far left lane. And wouldn’t you know it, there was DR AGAPE, just behind me in the lane I needed. He was an older man, of course, and it turns out he’s one of those inconsistent drivers, leaving tons of space in front of his car, then closing the gap, then dropping back again. So I took the opportunity to change lanes in front of him during one of his gappy moments.

Here’s a truism that all L.A. drivers know, or at least should know: If you signal for a lane change as early as you’re supposed to, you will not be let in. I learned long ago to watch for a space, then signal just as I start the lane change. I know not to try to cram myself into a space where there is no space, so I try to change lanes into a gap where there’s enough room for my car. It does not matter when you signal, early or late; often the person behind will see your blinker and rush to close the gap, so best to already be half-way done with your maneuver.

Since I was trying to make a point to myself, I made sure I had just enough space to get in front of DR AGAPE, but not tons. I was nowhere near as close to him as he’d been to the guy he cut off, but that was my test, and DR AGAPE took the bait. As soon as I started to make my lane change and turned on my signal, he sped up, and then honked his big, blasting Cadillac horn at me. He was justified because, of course, DR AGAPE is the only driver on the road.

I raised my hand up when I’d finished changing lanes, and gave him a nice, long, languid hand wave, a thank you for his participation in my social experiment.

I have to be honest here; I am someone who will not always let another driver get in the lane in front of me. Horrible, I know. I have very complicated rules for when not to let someone change lanes in front of me. Are they heading for an exit or a freeway split, or just changing lanes for fun? Are they already going way, way too slow? Are they a “maintain 40 car lengths” kind of driver? Are they polite driver or an asshole driver? What kind of car are they driving? There’s lots to factor in. I learned that if I let that old mini-van, that Jaguar, that Prius, or that tiny truck with a lawn mower in the bed and three guys in the cab get in front of me, I’ll be behind their slow ass for miles, and as other cars fill the lane in front of them, they will maintain that huge gap, letting even more cars in front, and so on. It’s less about the minimal time I’m wasting behind such a driver, and more about how incredibly stupid such driving is in a region with over 10 million people. If everyone drove with huge gaps in front of them, no one would get anywhere. It’s incredibly sad, but true, and I hate it.

There was the chance that DR AGAPE had cut that guy off because he has similar rules of the road, and wanted to make sure he was not caught behind the slow guy. I guessed that was not the case, based on his car, his age, and the really self-absorbed way he changed lanes, slowly, ignoring the guy he was cutting off. He had no reason to cut so close to the other driver. But maybe. Maybe he doesn’t like getting caught behind slow drivers.

Once DR AGAPE and I were both on the 134, where traffic was flowing, I expected him to change lanes and speed by me. But he did no such thing. Instead, now that we were out of bumper-to-bumper traffic, he drove slowly, holding up his lane, and I was a quarter mile ahead of him by the time I hit my exit. And thus was my experiment a success. I had proven that DR AGAPE is a shitty driver, a clueless driver, and, without a doubt, the only driver on the road.

Here’s a man who owns millions of records.

This is a very nicely shot mini-documentary which brings up a good point: Where does all that music go in the end? What if it’s lost to future generations? A majority of music is crap and probably not worth the vinyl or plastic or wax or metal it’s delivered on. But do we only save the popular stuff? How many gems or masterpieces have been lost to time because they were never very popular?

This little movie brought up another question I’ve had for a long time now: What happens when civilization collapses and we lose all our technology? How do we re-discover who we were? A record is a perfect storage medium for sound. With a minimum of knowledge, you can look carefully at an album and figure out how it works. The same is true for film. You can just look at film and see what’s going on. But a CD or DVD? A digital file? Magnetic disk drives? Once the technology is lost, once the algorithms and codecs are lost, how does anyone reconstruct those treasures? My guess is they don’t.

In the event of a major crisis, a dark age following this technological one, our digital world will be lost forever. Analog at least has some chance of survival and rediscovery.

I have not posted in a while, for which I apologize. I have been tweeting, and I have been writing a post every week over at the LFTI blog and not linking to them here, and for all that, again, I apologize. You see, I have been obsessed.

With what?

With the sitcom, for one. We are shooting our next “episode” this weekend, and we’ve been working very, very hard. I put episode in quotes because it’s not really an episode, it’s a series of shorts introducing our new character. But this is sort of secret, so don’t let anyone know. We’re keeping this new character and shorts series a surprise for our fans. If any of them make it here, then, by golly, they deserve to know this secret! Yeah, not many people read the LFTI blog, but by golly, they should. It is chock full of interesting info about our show, and it’s typically quite the funny read. This is not tooting my own horn, but… Well, yes, it is. It is tooting my own horn. But I am tooting it in tandem with the horns of Robb and Tanya, who also post regularly. They deserve the toots just as well as I, maybe even more so.

So, the sitcom. Yes. It is a beautiful, wonderful time suck. I feel my life is gaining meaning again by working on it. I sat on the floor two nights ago, for instance, cutting and shaping foam rubber to create a cowboy hat. It has to look like the Arby’s hat, you see. Why? That is one secret I shall not divulge here. That secret I will make you wait to discover in good time.

I feel so creative with the sitcom, so rewarded and so proud. These are results that both grow from and grow into obsession.

My second obsession, at least for the past few weeks, has been the iPhone. I have loved my iPhone somehow even before I owned it. I waited in line for hours to get one on June 29th last year. I have used it and, despite its few shortcomings, loved it for over a year now.

Then the 2.0 upgrade was announced, along with the new 3G version of the iPhone. It would be a month-long wait between the announcement at the having. Well, that day of having was last Friday, July 11. Since that day, my happy iPhone has been a completely new device. It’s like the tiny but sunny window you’ve been looking out of for a year was been suddenly replaced with a wall-sized picture window. Really. Just like that. But my old phone did not have three important new features: 3G, GPS, and 16GB of storage. Upgrading was not a necessity, it would be a luxury. I checked up on three stores over the weekend, all with huge lines that scared me away. I went back and forth in my head, knowing that my original iPhone was excellent, fine, perfectly great.

Today, on the way back to the office from a work show at Disneyland, I called the Glendale Apple Store. They had 16GB black iPhone 3Gs in stock, and the line was short. I made a detour, waited maybe 45 minutes in line, then after ten in the store, I had a new iPhone.

There was one thing, one incredibly geeky, ridiculous, silly thing that pushed me over the edge to get a phone now instead of waiting for the next version. I want to keep the original iPhone. I want to be able to pull it out years from now and show it off or even just touch it because it will be a device long-remembered for changing a small tidbit of the world. I much prefer the original iPhone feel and look to the new one. It has a much nicer heft, and the aluminum is so wonderful to hold. I would use it until I ran it into the ground. But that was just it! I did not want it to end up like my Newton, shattered and useless. I wanted a relatively cosmetically excellent specimen to enjoy for much longer. The only way to do that was to sacrifice my everyday enjoyment of it.

I am writing this now because the new phone is loading the backup from my old phone. I will love using the new phone, I will love it’s faster wireless speed and its GPS and its extra space. But it will not be an original iPhone.

I have yet another obsession, which is more long-lived, and that is dealing with rude people. Selfish people, people who do not have any consideration for others, and whose world extends beyond them only so much as it does to support and coddle them.

It was a great posting by a guy named Lance Arthur that, combining this topic of selfishness with an iPhone 3G line, that started me writing this post in the first place. Please go read it now.

I sympathize with this fellow for a few reasons, one being that he waited in a long, long line to upgrade his phone, like I did, and another being that he had a run-in with a schmuck that turned out for him as it would have for me (namely, with an illogical confrontation ending in lingering anger). It also seems he’s gay, which adds a sprig of parsley to the dish.

I have posted before about run-ins with inconsiderate neighbors, and the continuing saga of a majority number of drivers believing themselves to be the only ones on the road has got me flummoxed at record-high levels. New examples arrive in greater numbers every day of people who are so turned inward that I can’t imagine why we’re not all standing about, horrified at having to stare at their glistening innards. My own recent attempts to exact justice on these types only leave me flustered and angry, like Lance. Even the possibility of encountering idiocy and potential intervention create a dull but palpable stress. The very real potential of being kept awake at night by a dolthead next door who thinks talking loudly on their cell phone at three in the morning is acceptable social etiquette is enough to keep me from falling asleep in the first place.

Did I mention that drivers are even more insanely self-absorbed now than they were when I first moved out here? There’s the lady yesterday who, talking illegally on her phone and half-blocking a lane of traffic at a parking garage exit, gave me a look of “fuck you!” when I dared to honk and crowd her back into the garage. There’s the guy who darted from behind me into the lane on my right, which was ending in 100 feet, then shouted mean names at me through my window when I refused to slow down so that he could merge in front of me. Plus numerous other, similar examples. Somehow, these people become indignant when they are at all inconvenienced by having to work with others in their society.

You see how I obsess. Sure, no surprise there to anyone who frequents the Forum. But you see how the past couple weeks have been a double-whammy of obsession for me. I feel fairly overwhelmed with all this, yet I know, really, since my obsessions have kept me from getting sleep (see: right now), it’s less me being overwhelmed than being exhausted. I could use my obsession with the iPhone App Store to find a productivity app to keep me task-oriented and hyper-scheduled, allowing me to get more sleep… but oh so much more fun to download the daylight app that shows day, night, dusk, and dawn times and use that for our shoot this weekend…

Boy, this is scary. Very WALL-E. Could you imagine living in one of those houses on the edge of that hideous trench? Why does mankind love ugliness so much?

There’s this great site I’ve been fascinated with lately called Shorpy. It reproduces large-size pictures from the past, usually the late 1800s to the mid 1900s (though really, they’ll put up anything interesting).

I mention this today because I love this picture posted on Saturday:

Click it to see it larger.

I love this picture. Even record stores were full-service get-ups back then. And you can look at it now and see some of the Apple Store in it. (Yes, I bring absolutely everything back to Apple!)

The picture is most likely from 1952. I started to try to figure this out myself when I went looking for that Bing Crosby Christmas album. I found this on eBay:

The seller said it was from 1949. Well, wouldn’t you know it, had I just read the comments on the Shorpy picture’s original post, I would have found all this out! When you think you’re onto something on the web, you’re probably not. Twenty dozen people have already beaten you to it.

I would recommend you spend some time browsing Shorpy. The older pictures of kids working in factories and things makes you realize how far we’ve come in this country regarding worker’s rights.

I had never heard about the four boxes. Here’s a great example of how we’ve exhausted three in regards to this warrantless wiretapping thing. This wiretapping issue got me so angry last week (here’s why), the fourth box would have looked mighty tempting. As Robb said at Denny’s on Sunday, repeating what so many of us have said so often since 2000, “What does it take for people to say, ‘Hang on a minute here…’?”

(Four boxes link found via Daring Fireball)

Joe Lieberman. Fighter for freedom! Defender of American values! Unless he doesn’t like you. Read here about Lieberman asking Google to remove all YouTube videos from radical Islamist organizations.

Google’s response is logical and considered. Thank goodness in this crazy age of radicalism on all sides that one company can be a voice for reason and—

Oh. Wait. Google, at the request of the Indian authorities, turned over information about a man who posted vulgar things about a politician? So much for that. I wonder what adhering to China’s laws will cause Google to do

Whatever Google does, I hope Joe Lieberman stops doing anything. Really, this man’s a lunatic. You can trust that I will refuse to take down this post if he sends me an official letter of complaint.

 

The California Supreme Court ruling yesterday to allow same-sex marriages in the state was an overdue move ahead for sanity and common sense. The usual round of knob-heads who think it’s their business to get in other people’s business believe quite the opposite.

Knob-heads. They have ruined the country over the last 7 years. Now, granted, every generation thinks the country’s been on a road to ruin ever since it began (back in the 1950s, if you believe some people), but I think backwards sliding on social issues is a great sign of a country being ruined. Two steps forward, three steps back.

So what do I want to say to these knob-heads? I want to say what Fake Steve Jobs said today in his post about Obama and Silicon Valley. The second paragraph is a wonderful tirade, the kind of thing I’d love to say. So I’ll link to it instead and let my own voice be heard!

Is it any wonder that countries fight, peoples genocize each other, and couples can’t choose a place to have dinner? Communication is difficult, and sometimes it’s simply impossible.

Take the following exchange between myself and another guy on DList, a sort of gay MySpace.

To set this up, I have to explain that my profile asks people to send me a message and make some contact with me before asking me to be their “friend.” I hate sites where people just add “friends” willy-nilly. I mean, I get why they do that—the more friends, the more likely you are to be seen—but I can’t be bothered to have a huge list of people that I’ve never even talked to. That’s not why I’m on sites like this. My request is acceptable, and it is certainly not out of the ordinary.

So a fried request pops up on my account, after which a message comes to me, both from a guy calling himself BulkingUp. The message has the subject, “why do you have.” The message then goes:

to be one of those who needs a line to add a friend? I always feel awkward when I’m forced to write a message with the request, I mean what are you supposed to say? besides the obvious, that is…

First two warning signs: the subject line was used as the beginning of the message, and the guy calls himself BulkingUp. While the latter is about par for the course on a gay site, the former is inexcusable no matter what one’s sexual alignment. A third warning sign: poor capitalization. Not a deal-breaker, to be sure, but still grating. At least he was using punctuation.

Had the message been fun and cool, I could easily have ignored the warning signs. But the message was, I thought, obnoxious. He’s bitching about my requirement, but is not annoyed enough by it to decide against sending me a friend request. He was even unable to find anything to say aside from the bitching.

I should have ignored the message, but I was annoyed, so I wrote back a simple, “Sorry you don’t like it. Alas!”

To which he replied, “I was trying to be funny, I guess.” (He had no period at the end, however.)

Oops. Okay, so I misread it. It was easy to do, what with the complete lack of humor involved. So I sent back, “Oh, sorry, I didn’t pick up on that! Oops.”

“I was too subtle, I guess.” Hmm. Okay, yes, the humor was a bit subtle… to the point of near nonexistence. However, he seems to not be understanding that I get that, and that I missed his intent. So I shoot back, “Which is funny, because I’m the one who can often be too subtle! Ha! So I’ve tasted my own medicine! :) ” Every time I use an emoticon, I am ashamed, but sometimes it’s the only way to prove that there is no harm done, no harm meant, and no harm received.

Perhaps his browser turned my :) into a >:P, because his response was:

Dude, all I was trying to do was to add some sort of funny message to my friend request. You didn’t get it. Or it provoked the opposite reaction to the one I expexted. There is no reason to continue this exchange.
Peace.

On a grander scale, this is when the troops would be sent across the border to shoot up some town holding no strategic advantage. Oh, except he said, “Peace.” So maybe the border troop build-up would have been stood down. (Can you say “stood down”?)

I should not have sent anything more, but I did. “And I was genuinely trying to apologize. Sorry it got so botched. TTFN.” And the communication was done. For all I know, he thought “TTFN” stood for “Ta-ta, fuckin’ numbskull.”

There is nothing important at stake here, nothing to worry about, nor anything to lose sleep over. Yet I was, and still am, a bit taken aback by this. How could two random strangers so quickly and completely miscommunicate? Personally, am I really that bad at getting across my own intent? I don’t think I am, yet here is someone who does. I certainly think he’s no good at it. Is it really that easy for written communication to be so misinterpreted? What if he and I had met randomly in person, at a bar (SOOOOO likely!) or a sushi restaurant (SOOOOO likely!)? Would the visual connection have been able to diffuse such a miscommunication, or would something in each other’s demeanors have set us at each other anyway?

Is it personality, language, attitude, or perception that get in the way of being able to talk? Or all of those?

Whatever the cause, the genuine surprise that comes from an unexpected breakdown in dialogue is not really welcome. It gives me a case of the brow-furrows.

Well, I’m very disappointed in Ben Stein. No longer will I be able to watch Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and think of Ben as the funny teacher. I will think of him as the pathetic mouthpiece of ID who, despite himself, must have accidentally been funny.

What the hell am I talking about? This:

Wow. There is so much that’s horrible about that clip, I can’t even see straight. O’Reilly really is an ignorant, posturing creep. It makes me sad that so many people hang on this man’s every word. And that Ben! What? He always presented such a fun yet rational image!

Okay, it’s not very fair to bludgeon Ben and his talents because he believes in God, but he really is asking for it. Perhaps I’m persecuting him for his beliefs, as he says “the seculars” do! Well, no. I’m not persecuting him for that, I’m persecuting him for his ignorance on the matters he’s trying to discuss. If you’re going to summarize the “secular” viewpoint of the beginning of life on Earth as “lighting striking a mud puddle,” then you are open game. Trying to sell the ID agenda as a simple first amendment right to free speech is full-on bullshit.

I got into all this again thanks to a very good Ars Technica article describing how, after a defeat in the courts, Intelligent Design is rebranding itself to take another shot at infiltrating schools. Ben mentioned in the above clip how desperate “seculars” are because Darwin’s theory is so flawed. “Seculars” aren’t the ones who are desperate, it’s the creationists who are desperate. Science doesn’t need to throw up a smokescreen to get taught in classes. Only fake, made-up ideologies reliant on ancient superstitions and human failings need to do so to be considered as proper curricula for schools.

While certain slimy types keep wanting to force ID into everyone’s consciousness, it’s good to keep finding articles like this one, which demonstrate how, little-by-little, humans can piece together the true evolution of life and the workings of the universe. There are no little pieces like this to support the concept of a creator, and I think, Mr. Stein, that that is what is making ID lovers nervous. All science needs to do is explore, finding clues and proof about the real world, while ID must rely on attacks, whining that science hasn’t discovered all the answers yet. Somehow, ID folks feel religion has, which is ludicrous.

What I find amusing (in a very scary way) is how Ben says evolution was a “brilliant proposition,” but faults it for not describing how life began in the first place. Gee golly gee! I wonder if perhaps Ben expects the theory of relativity to explain how H. G. Wells came up with the idea for his novels? This is a perfect example of propaganda. All you need to do is distort the facts enough, make up false doubts, and you’re on your way to a successful undermining of truth.

May I finally point out, Ben, that while you deride Darwin’s evolutionary theory as being out of date (“[it] was a brilliant theory in the middle on the 19th century… it’s the 21st century, there are a lot of questions…”), the concept of a creator is even more out of date and even more full of questions. Nice try. “Stein? Stein? Stein?”

Here is a very interesting New York Times op-ed from 1992, written by the recent winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Doris Lessing.

“Questions You Should Never Ask a Writer”

A tidbit:

Powerful ideas affecting our behavior can be visible only in brief sentences, even a phrase—a catch phrase. All writers are asked this question by interviewers: “Do you think a writer should…?” “Ought writers to…?” The question always has to do with a political stance, and note that the assumption behind the words is that all writers should do the same thing, whatever it is. The phrases “Should a writer…?” “Ought writers to…?” have a long history that seems unknown to the people who so casually use them. Another is “commitment,” so much in vogue not long ago. Is so and so a committed writer?

Next time you hear a press release from a company or politician saying that they are “committed to blah blah blah,” ask yourself what that means. Maybe it’s a different context than Doris mentions here, but indeed, the phrase “committed to” implies a point of view without truly committing to it. “We are committed to finding ways to end racism” is not that same as “We are finding ways to end racism.” The first is, I’d say, entirely meaningless, though it imparts import and involvement.

Our current American regime is expert at using language in this “Communist” manner.

So it seems the New York State Restaurant Association has filed suit to prevent a new law that requires some restaurants to post the calorie counts next to food items listed on menus. Do please to read about it here.

After having a discussion with Fuz last night about school vouchers and how, in my view, they are merely a move to privatize education and turn it into another American money-making industry that will, in the end, screw over pretty much everyone except those who can afford to swim above the quagmire, reading about this restaurant lawsuit just makes me shake my head. I can write paragraphs about this subject, but, sadly, I have to work! I have to work for my huge entertainment conglomerate that is partially responsible for this kind of industry malfeasance!

Well, friends, I just read a site that walks one through the new $27 million Creation Museum. It looks incredibly fancy. But, really, come on. Are there many museums out there based so much on ignorance and blindness?

This museum has every right to exist, of course. We all have the right to say what we want. But here’s a good question posed by The New York Times :

Given the museum’s unwavering insistence on belief in the literal truth of biblical accounts, it is strange that so much energy is put into demonstrating their scientific coherence with discussions of erosion or interstellar space. Are such justifications required to convince the skeptical or reassure the believer?

I just got done reading Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, and the details the poor guy has to slog through to disprove—er, sorry, counter—religion are tiring and incredibly painful. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good read, but the fact that it had to be written at all is what’s so unfortunate. To have to argue against something so silly seems a waste of time.

Making things even sillier, here now are the creationists, once again altering their interpretations of the Bible and science to, among other amusing concoctions, include the dinosaurs in a 6,000-year Christian time line. The Creation Museum literally puts the dinosaurs with Adam and Eve. “Adam and apes share the same birthday. The first man walked with dinosaurs and named them all! God’s Word is true, or evolution is true. No millions of years. There’s no room for compromise.

Belligerent religion has become something of a nuisance in America lately, especially since the election of Bushy baby and that thing on 9/11. I think what’s happening now is a last, desperate grasp to hold on to something that, in today’s light, is so ridiculous and still unproven. Moderate religious people can hold onto science and still make room for their belief in God, but the flailing, glassy-eyed, bad-haired Christian extremists who do what they can to hold onto their moldy Bible and its antiquated teachings are running out of room to wiggle.

Let’s walk down a quick path through the past. Just for a moment.

We are back in the mists of ancient time, and humans are fairly ignorant about a great many things in this universe. There is no direct evidence of how the Earth and humans came about, so why not come up with something? Human invention fills in the gaps where our knowledge is lacking.

Christianity and the other one-god beliefs become an inevitable later chapter in the evolution (yes, evolution) of religions. So you have your one god, and he created the entire universe and, while you are making up the story, he created mankind in his image. Fine. Evidence of your god’s divine skills in creation are everywhere. How else to explain the caterpillar who so magically and inexplicably turns itself into a butterfly!

As you marvel at the creation all around you, this little mammal of a thing called science emerges. It’s timid and unsure at first, but within a certain amount of time, it can show how the caterpillar turns into a butterfly. No problem for you, however! It simply underscores the wonder of your god’s skill and imagination.

The world is filled with tiny mysteries that, as science grows, become less mysterious. Still glorious, perhaps, but not mysterious. Yet, still, it is very easy to keep an unwavering faith in your god because, you see, each little step shows his brilliance.

Science, however, grows exponentially, making incredible strides. It builds upon itself, each discovery being made upon the foundation of others. It is self-healing, evolving (yes!), and changing as observable states become more entrenched in its volumes of fact. With the smaller mysteries solved, the larger ones come next, and then the larger ones, and the larger ones…

And suddenly, boom. You find yourself in an age where many of those gigantic, unsolvable questions of the universe that your religion was created to answer begin to unravel under the gaze of science. It is proven (not suggested, but proven) that the Earth is much, much older than that clever book of yours suggests. The evolution of creatures on Earth has been discovered, and fossils demonstrate that it’s been going on a long time. More and more of your book is shown to be lacking in support of what others have observed.

At this point, the moderate religious person begins to simply accept most of the truths of science, writing your book off as allegory or symbolism. But because the existence of god himself is, by intelligent human design, impossible to prove or disprove, they can still take comfort in knowing that he still had a hand in all this.

Oh, but this will not do for you! Oh, my, no! You hug close the wisdom of your book, and believe in it with all your heart and head. As the “facts” in your book slough off into the trough of fiction, you can no longer simply do what the weak-faithed moderates do. No. The only thing left for you is denial. Deception. Acceptance of the fanciful and preposterous. The caterpillar is now the entire universe itself, and as science drills deeper into the truths of this universe, further expanding the borders of concepts the human mind can grasp, you have only one choice. Lie to yourself. Oh, and lie to others. Die a revered modern missionary.

That’s where we are now, back in the present.

There will forever be humans who believe in a god of some kind, and the concept is malleable, changeable, and adaptable—traits that will assure that the evolution of religion continues without dying. Unlike the evolution of science, which expands and improves as it builds upon itself, Christianity (and other religions, too, I suppose) stays the same as it folds in on itself, changing only as much as its narrow rules allow. It becomes inbred.

The fundamentalists, being deniers of evolution and, as time marches on, actual observable fact, have to fight. Their brand of belief is dying, and they are doing what all dying things do: struggle.

During this struggle, the rules of common sense are going wayside. Any tactic will be acceptable: lying, misquoting, ignoring pieces of arguments, and enthusiastically supporting only those tidbits of the world of science that fit into the biblical world view.

The Creation Museum is bold. Daring. That it can put the unsupported and unprovable “facts” from the Bible next to scientific “lies” that have been unquestionably proven and re-proven again and again is ballsy. It fits right in with the Intelligent Design crusade to get creationism taught in public schools. It’s all bullshit, but boy, is it marketed well.

Thousands of years of Christianity can not so easily be wiped away. The branches of Christianity that will not stray from the old ways are going to die and fade. But like an exploding star, the fundamentalists will make a big noise, engulfing new minds and capturing needy hearts, before ultimately fading away into the fringe.

As I’ve mentioned before, The Onion is not nearly as funny as it used to be—though some of its new video clips are amusing—but I have to pass along the following article, which just about sums up everything exactly as I wish I had thought to do:

Middle East Conflict Intensifies As Blah Blah Blah, Etc. Etc.

I think my first sentence up above there might be a run-on. Yes, I should definitely submit it to the Run-On Detection Engine, just to see…

The VT situation brings too many questions to mind that can be discussed in one sitting. But here’s something to consider: Are violent writings enough to toss someone in jail?

A town in Oklahoma thought so, with typically head-shaking results.

Sometimes there’s simply nothing you can do about this sort of thing. The kid in Oklahoma was the victim of emotional overreaction not long after Columbine. In his situation, there certainly should have been questions about what he wrote, but once it became clear he was not a threat, the persecution should have ended.

The reactions to Seung’s writings were, perhaps a bit ironically in this context, appropriate. And his stalking of women was noted and investigated, but there were no other reasons to take more drastic action.

I do not know what more could have been done. Seung was one sick fuck, and you can’t prevent a disaster like this any more than you can prevent a glass of water being bumped off the edge of a table.

“But you can prevent a glass of water being bumped off the edge of a table.” Sure, okay. You can move it away from the edge. You can make sure you stay away from the water. You can move the water to another, unused table. You can even take the glass to the sink, pour the water down the drain, and shut the glass in a cupboard.

Over absolutely nothing, the kid in Oklahoma had his water dumped out and his glass shut away. Seung’s glass was moved a tiny bit away from the edge of the table, but not much. A good bump to the table, and the glass still tips.

The tragedy of VT is magnified considering that, really, we probably did all we could have done. In this insane, crazy world, sometimes the cruel and lunatic take some of us with them. In America, where those who need help are considered weak and the strong are only meant to watch out for themselves, this kind of tragedy is inevitable.

Who would come here to get any info on the shootings at Virginia Tech? Why would anyone come here? Why should I even post anything? What can I say that hasn’t been said?

I just find two things of incredible interest and want to put it down here.

The first is a set of plays written by Seung Cho, the killer. One is “Richard McBeef;” the second is “Mr. Brownstone.” Both are terrible plays in every way, written by a secluded, ignorant guy who had no working knowledge of the real world. Seung had no talent whatsoever. It’s an interesting glimpse into his head.

Second is this video on CNN.com (I hope that link works). Of course, the awkwardness of the interviewer, the silly “newsiness” of her on-air delivery, is depressing to watch. But when this guy, Zach, breaks down at the end, it’s truly moving.

How do you get to a point where you can walk around, killing strangers point-blank? Watching their faces and seeing them die? I mean, if you’re not trained to do so by the military? It is not terribly surprising that these people always end up killing themselves. Do they kill themselves in the end when they realize that what they’ve done is unforgivable and they will most likely die anyway at the hands of the state? Or is it the capper on the emotional swell of hatred and self-loathing that started them on the rampage in the first place? Is that the eventual goal? Kill yourself, but take others with you first? All this has been asked before, but it comes up every time.

I’m sure there are some good books on this subject out there somewhere.

How good of United Airlines to notice that women are… different from men.

Funny how a forward-thinking ad from the ’60s can seem so absolutely inappropriate today. Which makes what I’m about to say absolutely inappropriate: I’d hate to be on the wrong end of that woman’s happy meter. I imagine Miranda Priestly has nothing on this chick. Cardinali? Is that her name? Well, I guess when you’re as stylish and weathy as Cardinali, you can afford to bathe in vats of bitchitude.

Oh, and the YouTube comments on this video? Ridiculous. Why are 95% of the comments on YouTube absolutely moronic? Maybe it’s time to kick the trash off the Internet!

Here are some interesting bits from the Web thing today.

First: Translations of the Japanese Get a Mac ads. Just in case I haven’t talked about these ads enough.

Second: An AP reporter gets zapped by the Air Force’s “pain gun.” How scary is this pain gun concept, anyway? Yikes! I suppose the intellectual question would be, is it worse to be shot with a physical bullet, or by a spooky, unseen force? The ignorant, liberal question would be, why should anyone have to be shot at all?

Third: The recent vicinity of George Orwell’s former flat is currently being surveilled by no less than 32 cameras. George’s flat was number 27B. The name of the Wired blog I got this from is called 27B Stroke 6. It’s named after the form in Brazil with which Sam tortures the Central Services grunts—and vice-versa. And now I have an even larger appreciation for the brilliance of the Brazil screenplay.

When I get saddened by modern instances of anti-gay bigotry, and when I wonder if there’s ever going to be true equality for us in society, all I have to do is remember that things have been much, much worse.

Take this video, for instance: Boys Beware

Ah, the moral, family-friendly olden days! Don’t you miss ‘em? I have to wonder if Sid Davis produced a similar film, Girls Be Vigilant, where perfectly heterosexual men stalk Jane and Betty and Linda. These men aren’t mentally ill with the “demand for an intimate relationship with members of their own sex,” they’re just mentally ill with the demand for an intimate relationship with members of the opposite sex. Oh, and they happen to pray on kids. Yes, one is a pedophiliac, one is a homosexual. They are interchangeable, the only difference being sexual preference. (And, come to think of it, that term itself—sexual preference—seems a bit incorrect. Isn’t a preference a choice of some kind? Guess it’s semantic.)