Monday, October 30, 2006

Vacation and Some Books

Spent the last two weeks on the East Coast visiting family. The first week was with my in-laws in Philadelphia and the second week was with my immediate family in Northern Virginia. Good times were had. I'll see about maybe posting a few pictures in a few days.

As a result of the vacation, my reading has been close to non-existent this month. While at my in-laws I read Emma, which was pretty good. It was one of the rare instances where the main character behaves abominably and yet I enjoyed the reading and liked said character.

Later, when I was staying with my brother in VA, I picked Fool's Errand off his shelf and read it. It wasn't too bad. I'm thinking that I'll read the rest of the books in the series and maybe look for some other books by the same author. Turns out that book is the first in a trilogy, but this trilogy was written to follow up an earlier one. So I'm thinking I'll begin at the beginning. I've put the books on hold at the library, but the first one hasn't arrived yet.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Pity the poor materialist.

I've debated a bit on different but similar topics with Beren IV in the past, and each time I came away feeling a mix of pity and contempt. I try to make it more pity and less contempt, but it is quite difficult for me. Truly, I am not certain whether it is deliberate refusal to consider a philosophy that is not strictly materialist or that he is actually unable to conceive of such a philosophy, but he only argues from a position of strict materialism. This leads him to write things that would be, quite unintentionally I am sure, extremely funny if they were not so dangerously muddle-headed.

I bring this up because he is currently examining the "Ecology of Arda" in the Reading Room this week.

Consider this excerpt from this post:
9.Do the Ainur fit into any of the kingdoms of life on Earth (prokaryotes, protozoans/algae, fungi, animals, or plants)? Do they belong to their own kingdom? If you concluded that the Ainur are in fact biological and you were going to name the science of Ainur biology, would it be zoology? Botany? Or something else (what would the study of Angels be)?

The Ainur, in Tolkien's mythology, are roughly equivalent to angels, as is implied in his second parenthetical statement above.

And consider this as well from this post:
On Earth, religious and irreligious scholars have debated endlessly about whether souls exist or not. Science has been unable to answer the question definitively: science has failed to prove the existence of souls, but because science has also failed to measure the existence of the spiritual in any way at all, it also cannot disprove the existence of souls. What science has established, however, is that all of the characteristics that humans possess can be reasonably assumed to be biological in nature, including characteristics such as creativity, curiosity, problem-solving abilities, compassion, and, ultimately, morality. Thus, although science cannot disprove the existence of the soul, it can at least in the context of thought and behavior establish that the soul is at best redundant, at worst irrelevant, if it exists at all.

Nonsense on stilts, as Jonah Goldberg is wont to say. Stanislaus Bocian (who is not a native English speaker, I do not believe, which explains his odd grammatical constructions) answered him thusly here:
Science cannot even allow that two human characteristics exist at all, not to speak about explaining them: free will and reason (ability to know truth).

As the science relies on human reason, it is in quite paradoxical situation.

I suggest that if you follow that thread down (self-explanatory if you follow the link) and see that when Beren IV replies he appears to fail even to grasp the point that Bocian is making. I really can't decide whether it is purposeful or if he is so blinded by his assumptions that he can't see past the end of his nose. I'm inclined to the latter since he seems in all other ways an earnest and thoughtful young man.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Handwriting

Interestingly, the main thing that I got out of this article in the Washington Post (which I found via The Corner) was not anything having to do with cursive handwriting or the death of penmanship, but rather a desire to learn shorthand. How cool would that be? It would be like knowing a foreign language since the knowledge of it is so rare now. At least, I don't think I know a single person who knows shorthand whereas I know people who speak French, German, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese and probably several other tongues if I sat and thought about it for a bit.

Whatever happened to...?

I was surfing around on YouTube this morning (while keeping an eye on my daughter to ensure that the crayons are only used on her paper and not on, say, the walls and carpet) and ran across some music videos for Staind. I enjoyed some of their music when I was in college and realised that I haven't really heard anything about them since. Not only that, but System of a Down (which, though their politics were sophomoric, had some interesting music) and some other bands. Whatever happened to these guys? Did the bands break up? Did they release albums that bombed and then they faded away?

Interesting Canon

Probably really late to this, but I found an interesting version of Pachelbel's Canon on YouTube. Someone else arranged it, but the playing is impressive.

Monday, October 09, 2006

October Doldrums

Ugh. Been a slow month. Haven't read much, haven't blogged much.

Did watch a couple Jackie Chan films this past week, Gorgeous and New Police Story, the latter having nothing to do with his earlier Police Story films. Gorgeous had a bit of Jackie's slapstick humour and a couple good fights, but was mostly forgettable and NPS lacked the humour but had some neat stunts though it suffered from an utterly fantastic plot like most Hong Kong crime movies do. Have The Hidden Blade from the library and plan to watch that before the end of the week.

Blogging will probably be light to non-existent the rest of the month.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Paul Johnson writes interesting books

I finished Paul Johnson's Creators a couple days ago. (I missed squeezing it into September's total by about 30-ish pages and having to get up early for church on 1 October.) It was another fascinating book. All three of his books that I've read have been both interesting and very instructive. This book covers a range of creators in the various arts (drama, literature, painting, architecture, etc.) and discusses a bit about their lives and their work and what may have driven them to create, enabled them to create, and so forth. There are so many interesting bits of information and reading Johnson's prose about Albrecht Dürer or Bach or Shakespeare makes one want to sit down and write or draw or compose oneself. I'd suggest this book to just about anyone. It's not a book that will change your life, but I can't imagine anyone not enjoying it.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

En Fuego.

Thank you, Dan Patrick.

I think that applies since I've managed to read 51 books in the last two months. More than 1/3 of my year-to-date total, in fact. It's wonderful until I realise how much more I could have done in all those other months. O! for lost Januaries and Februaries!