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Monday, May 30, 2005
 
HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY!

"Now I look at the war as a sportsman. It's a matter of choosing
The decentest way of losing.
Heads or tails, losers or winners,
We all loose, we're all damned sinners.
And I'd rather be with the poor cold people at the wall that's shot
Than the bloody guilty devils in the firing line, in Hell and keeping hot."

"But what right, Dooley, what right," he cried,
"Have you to say the Lord is on your side?"

"That's a dirty crooked question," back I roared.
"I said not the Lord was on my side, but I was on the side of the Lord."


-From Dooley Is a Traitor by James Michie
 
Saturday, May 28, 2005
 
THE LITTLE THINGS COUNT

It looks like I passed my Nutrition class....by six points.

It's times like these when I'm thankful that I didn't skip "that little 10-point homework assignment".

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Friday, May 27, 2005
 
FINALLY

Finals are over, and I have nothing to do for the rest of the summer.

Suggestions?

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Sunday, May 22, 2005
 

.R.E.M WROTE A SONG ABOUT MY SITUATION

Let's talk about scripting. For a brief overview (and a good example) of scripting click here and read the whole thing. I left a comment at that post, and I'm still thinking about it.

For those of you who don't know (or those of you that I haven't told), Scripting is exactly what it sounds like: unconsciously pre-planned human behaviors used in social situations. Leighton describes an incident where a homeless woman asked him for change at a bus-stop. The typical Script-response that most of us have to these situations is to say, as Leighton puts it:


"'I'm sorry, I don't have any change'--along with appropriately distancing voice inflections and body language that lead to cessation of the social interaction."

This is the essence of scripting. We perform actions without thinking in order to send the appropriate social message to others. At a certain level, we actually need this kind of thoughtless automation, as Leighton points out when he says


"if we had to think about controlling every aspect of our bodies whenever we want to do something, we would be lucky to cook a meal, much less drive. If most of our socialization weren't automated, we'd never get anything done."

Sad, but true, I suppose. As interesting as this branch of psychology is, I'd like to pose a question to my loyal fans similar to the question that I posed to Leighton.

How much of our religious or political beliefs contain truth that we really believe, and how much of it is a result scripting?

Take, for example, our nation's thirty-year long war over abortion. I used to participate in a lot of online abortion-debates when I was younger (on the pro-life side, naturally), and even then I noticed that a great deal of the "arguments" on both sides were actually being recycled and reused like so much waste paper. (Click here, btw, for some sterling and recent examples of this phenomena. I haven't been in an abortion debate in about eight years, and its good to see that nothing has changed.)

Eventually, I noticed that the debates usually ran something like this:

Person A makes claim X
Person B responds to Person A with claim Y
Person A refuses to recognize authority of claim Y, responds to Person B with claim Q
Person B refuses to recognize authority of claim Q, re-responds to Person A with claim Y and/or responds with claim Z

Repeat this cycle for ten thousand pages and you've got a nice abortion debate on your hands!

The critical thing here -- the most important thing, you might say -- is that very little rational thought is being done by either side. Both sides believe certain things, both sides use evidence in their "scripts" to support their arguments, neither side reaches a conclusion except the conclusion that they started out believing. This is not to say that conversion from one side to another is impossible, per se, only very rare.

Now we fix our gaze upon religion. Why is it that we believe in the Trinity, for example? (Or, rather, why is it that we believe the enormously complex ideas and creeds formulated about the Trinity?) I admit that I'm biased in my opinion, but it seems to me that we tend to believe it because, well, believing in the Trinity is one of those things that Christians Are Just Supposed To Do. I mean, are we really smarter than those Nicean bishops? Should we really defraud The Deposit of Faith? And look! I've got some nifty verses from the Bible that conflate Jesus and God, so I guess those Turkish bishops were right all along....etc...etc.

Now, I realize that maybe the Trinity is not the best subject to question. I don't know what kind of evidence I would need to see to believe in the Trinity, and thusly I can't quite imagine what kind of evidence I would use against this particular doctrine. I mean, how do you "disprove" something that someone already takes as an article of faith? This is besides the point, however.

Christians believe in the Trinity because they must. Because it's written into their script. When challenged, they will marshal whatever evidence and support they can find and integrate it into their script. The arguments may differ from time to time, but the outcome is already predetermined. Calvin strikes us from the grave, apparently.

THIS IS WHERE THE .R.E.M SONG COMES IN

I'm at a place in my life right now where I'm no longer interested in belief-for-the-sake-of-belief. I'm no longer interested in believing something because the Church or Paul or the Evangelists say so. I'm no longer interested in defending bronze-age Middle Eastern religious texts, and then pretending they're personal notes from the Creator of the Universe. In other words, I'm tired of scripting. I'm tired of believing things because it's the right thing to do.

I've decided that from now on, whatever I believe, I'm going to try and believe it not because it's appealing, or moral, or traditional, or beautiful – but I'll believe it because I've found it to be true. Not what the Church has found to be true, not what my friends and family have found to be true, but me – what I have found to be the closest thing to Reality that I can fathom.

Of course, I'm not so naive as to think that I can figure it out all by myself. All knowledge is built on previous (and often refuted) knowledge, everything in human life is done within a human community, etc, etc. I know all that, and I keep it all in mind. I've decided, however, to question every claim – to demand evidence for every claim and to realize that all truth is provisional.

I've decided that I need conversation, discussion, debate. Evidence. I need to touch truth and see it for myself. I can no longer believe in the 'weightiness' of an argument simply because it was taught to me as being 'weighty'. Now I've got to hold it in my own hands and see just how heavy it really is.

I've decided to leave my old script behind – to start from scratch, or a close to scratch as I can get. If the truth is out there – if Truth is really out there, then I think I'll find it one day. If I don't find it, however, I hold out hope that somebody else will, and that my journey may help them along somehow.

Thats where I'm at right now. So where do we go from here?

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Friday, May 20, 2005
 
I THOUGHT WE WERE AMERICANS?

From the NY Times:

"Even as the young Afghan man was dying before them, his American jailers continued to torment him.

The prisoner, a slight, 22-year-old taxi driver known only as Dilawar, was hauled from his cell at the detention center in Bagram, Afghanistan, at around 2 a.m. to answer questions about a rocket attack on an American base. When he arrived in the interrogation room, an interpreter who was present said, his legs were bouncing uncontrollably in the plastic chair and his hands were numb. He had been chained by the wrists to the top of his cell for much of the previous four days.

Mr. Dilawar asked for a drink of water, and one of the two interrogators, Specialist Joshua R. Claus, 21, picked up a large plastic bottle. But first he punched a hole in the bottom, the interpreter said, so as the prisoner fumbled weakly with the cap, the water poured out over his orange prison scrubs. The soldier then grabbed the bottle back and began squirting the water forcefully into Mr. Dilawar's face.

"Come on, drink!" the interpreter said Specialist Claus had shouted, as the prisoner gagged on the spray. "Drink!"

At the interrogators' behest, a guard tried to force the young man to his knees. But his legs, which had been pummeled by guards for several days, could no longer bend. An interrogator told Mr. Dilawar that he could see a doctor after they finished with him. When he was finally sent back to his cell, though, the guards were instructed only to chain the prisoner back to the ceiling.

"Leave him up," one of the guards quoted Specialist Claus as saying.

Several hours passed before an emergency room doctor finally saw Mr. Dilawar. By then he was dead, his body beginning to stiffen. It would be many months before Army investigators learned a final horrific detail: Most of the interrogators had believed Mr. Dilawar was an innocent man who simply drove his taxi past the American base at the wrong time."


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Thursday, May 19, 2005
 
APOLOGY

Finals are coming up, and I need to get crackin'. I haven't forgot about all my adoring fans, of course. I have some ideas for new posts coming up, so do stay tuned.

So how 'bout them Yankees?


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Friday, May 13, 2005
 
WHOOPS

That survey took up waaaaay too much margin space. Sorry folks.

Also, as Kevin said:

"That quiz sucks. The wording is downright poor and it attempts to distill very complex issues into 1 of 5 discrete positions."

So true. Leave it to Kevin, of course, to let Logic get in the way of fun. Darn you, Kevin!


BTW,

It looks like our torture tactics are coming back to bite us in the butt. What goes around....

UPDATE: It seems that the Koran-flushing story is more nuanced than it seems. I don't know the whole story, so I'll leave it up until I see some evidence that it isn't true.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2005
 
MO' MONEY

Good news everybody: I've gotten some more hours at work. I'll end this week with close to thirty hours on my paycheck. This is a much needed windfall, as I have several bills due very soon, and at least one bill thats already late. The money I get from the extra hours should be able to take care of my financial problems -- for now.

In other news, I have a hankerin' to visit the San Francisco Zoo. I went there once as a child and I was floored by all the amazing life forms which had been locked up for my personal amusement.

I fear the day when that big thing with floppy ears will only be seen in Zoos or textbooks. I fear that day may come sooner than we think:

In 1980 there were about 1.3 million elephants in Africa. By 1989, there were an estimated 625,000 left (less than half). In 1990, most countries agreed to ban buying and selling ivory, and up to then, 100,000 elephants were killed each year....


Also, can you guess what the most dangerous animal in Africa is? This, perhaps?

Nope.

The answer might surprise you.




(Actually, I take that back. We all know the real deadliest animal, don't we?)

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Friday, May 06, 2005
 
UPDATE

For those of you who are following along:

My dad has resurfaced this afternoon, thankfully. I don't know where he's been for the past 18 hours or so, but I'm glad he's back -- sort of.

He hasn't told us if he intends to stay with us another night. He may leave again, but now that I'm not as worried about his saftey, I think that maybe some alone-time for him and mom might be a good thing.

I'll keep you all posted.

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Wednesday, May 04, 2005
 
TRUE LOVE HURTS?

From The Detroit Free Press:

Young adults who as teenagers take pledges to remain virgins until marriage are just as likely to contract a venereal disease as people who don't make the promise, according to a new study.

Teens who take the pledge are also more likely to take chances with other kinds of sex that increase the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, the study of 12,000 adolescents suggests...

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Tuesday, May 03, 2005
 

AN HONEST QUESTION

I've had to ask myself an honest but difficult question.

"Am I loosing my faith, or am I loosing somebody else's faith?"

This is critical, I think. Critical as it may be, I still don't know the answer. Is it really possible to have a faith apart from the Faith-Bearers and Gate-Keepers? Would "my" faith be any more "real"? Would it contain any more "truth"? How would I know?


What say you?




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Monday, May 02, 2005
 
SCIENCE MARCHES ON

I have a new comments script here on The Karl Show. Its the Blogger internal script, which means you'll need to register with Blogger to post comments on my site from now on.

And yes, this is a blatant ploy to get Dan on blogger.

Come join the grownups, Dan.

By the way, I've also made some subtle changes to the margins on the right. Nothing too drastic, of course.

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BAY AREA NOTES

I took a long overdue trip to the Bay Area on about two weeks ago.

My first stop was the old library where I used to work. Actually, they tore down the old library and built a gigantic new facility in it's place. I liked the old place a lot, but I must admit -- the new place is growing on me (It even has a borders-style Cafe'!). Click here for a fancy slide show of the new digs, and click here for some of the avant-garde artwork you'll find on the premises. I love post-modern architecture. After perusing the premises for a while, I walked out back to Central Park for which the library is named. There were many people and many birds about -- people feeding ducks, ducks quickly waddling away from precocious kids, etc. Oddly, I noticed that pidgeons were out in full force.

I say "oddly" because it's been nearly three years since I've lived in an urban environment where pidgeons can really thrive, so I had almost forgotten their ubiquitous presence and distinctive warble. I guess mating season had also dawned on the pidgeons of Santa Clara Valley. I found the way that the male pidgeons would puff their neck-plumage up and strutt around females to be hilarious -- almost giggle-worthy. As I stood there watching the natural display, I couldn't help but turn my thoughts to the mating habits of Homo Sapiens and our attendant silliness. It seems that we are driven by tremendous urges to mate, even when childbirth (supposedly the whole evolutionary "point" of mating) is not our goal, or even a positive side effect.

In fact, for most Americans, childbearing is actually quite a negative side effect of the mating process. I wonder, then, if humans (and pidgeons as well) would mate as often as we do if we didn't "get something" out of the deal besides children. Imagine a world -- as Augustine imagines -- where the purpose of mating is making new organisms and making new organisms only -- thus glorifying the Creator of all organisms (as opposed to glorifying ourselves, I guess?).

I was eating lunch at one of our local 5-star restaurants the other day, when Fate arranged to have my point proven for me. I was standing in line to get some overcooked and very bland Macaroni and Cheese when my eyes met the eyes of a young woman who was standing across from me, on the other side of the heating table. She was very pretty -- long brown hair and beautiful, green eyes. I was startled by her beauty, as fair maidens are rarely on the menu at HomeTown Buffet.

Before I could catch myself staring, she looked up from the Macaroni -- looked me in the eyes -- and smiled.

Smiled.

Suddenly, I was no longer Karl Naslund, mild mannered college student and dime-store philosopher. In less than the beating of an eyelash, I became A Male Homo Sapien In The Peak of His Virile Youth. The thought struck me, quite suddenly, that for being in The Peak of My Virile Youth, I don't look very hot. I had just gotten out of bed (yes, I do sleep in until lunchtime on most days), I hadn't combed my hair, I hadn't showered that day and I hadn't brushed my teeth either. I also weighed 260 pounds while only being 5'9". In less than a second, in less than the time it took you to read "In less than", the full weight of evolution had crashed down on my head, only to be dashed on the rocks of reality. I realized that I was like the male pidgeon in Central Park, that my urges towards female homo sapiens were fundamentally no different from his towards his own females. The difference, the sad difference, is that my plumage isn't quite as convincing as his. Natural selection has given me this drive to mate with members of the opposite sex, but American females operate under a different "selection criteria" than the one that I exhibit.

Pudgy, white males with nappy hair are not "in", culturally speaking.

What to do, you ask?

Nothing, really. Natural selection is a cruel mistress.

If you need me, however, I'll be in the park. I'm going to grab a bag of old bread and go feed some pidgeons. Going out of my way, of course, to give extra helpings to my pidgeon friends with ratty plumage and disjointed wings. Its the least that this hairless ape could do, I suppose.


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"Never be afraid to doubt... and doubt in order that you may end in believing the truth."

"Let us discern for ourselves what is right; let us learn together what is good." (Job 34.4)

Name:
Location: Turlock, California, United States

"The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook." -William James, Principles of Psychology





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