Month: April 2005

Religion.

I was talking to someone today about the new pope–he seems like a politico to me, whereas JPII seemed like a spiritual man who had to do some politics–when she started talking to me about how there will be no peace on earth this side of the final judgement, because of the power of Satan on earth to cause war, which is always evil, except that sometimes you have to do it anyway.

Dude.

I told her I didn’t know about all that, only that the new pope didn’t measure up to JPII.

Bad thing: When people use religious doctrine irrelevantly to justify an opinion, i.e., that Pope Benedict is a good guy. I’m oversimplifying the train of thought, but I think that was the intent.

Good thing: That I’m no longer a recovering Catholic. I’m not Catholic. I’m not Christian. (To me, it’d be like saying I believe in ratchets and nothing but ratchets when I have a whole box of tools.) But I’m not bitter about it anymore; I don’t need to defend myself from conversations that become illogical when religion is mentioned. I don’t have to get angry about it anymore.

Now, Focus on the Family is a different story. They’re hateful jerks, and if I were Christian, they’d probably make me even more angry than they do now.

Matt! Maaaaattttt!

Ben Edlund to write more Tick.

(via Whedonesque.)

Caffeine.

One of the things I miss about drinking strong coffe is the caffeine buzz. It seemed to make life just a little bit easier, at times. Like today, when I have no inspiration to do anything. I could sit down, drink a pot of coffee, and the world would have sparkly edges. Everything would inspire me to something.

I’d never finish that stuff, though. Because I’d travel back to the land of after-coffee, and it’d be boring. Utterly boring.

Anyway, I’ve had a long run of uninspiring days. Stuff happens, but it does’t feel important enough to write about. Made a new kind of chicken noodle soup, a pistou without the vegetables, I guess, and accidentally received an indoor grilling book from my cookbook club, which Lee was excited about, so I’ll keep it. (Yes, I belong to a cookbook club. I don’t usually cook using recipes, either.) I’m introducing Ray to the idea that letters make sounds, which make words. Lee’s brother Mike stopped by on his way to see their brother Dale in Tucson; Mike wanted to know what tricks Ray could do. Heard about Dale being Dale; it sounds like he’s dating someone who can relate to–not just laugh at–his stories. She only has one eye. I went to a potluck/open house celebrating the adoption of my boss’s two new kids from the Ukraine. I finally read Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind. I’m roasting chicken with homemade yakitori sauce. I read Song of Susannah yesterday, and I found it lacking compared to the other books in the series, probably because so much of it was a writerly trick to set up the last book. Did laundry. Survived another sinus infection. Changed the batteries in 20 cheap watches and only lost one screw.

But I did sit down today and promise myself that I’d write in my blog. I don’t know why, but even the dull entries make me feel better, at heart, than drinking a pot of coffee. And not as twitchy, either.

Review.

Since this is what I’ve been doing for most of my free time this week, I’d better post one.

*A Short History of Nearly Everything
By Bill Bryson.

It’s time to scrap our science textbooks. Not only are they wrong–and they know they’re wrong–but they’re bad. Electrons do not swirl around the nucleus of an atom like planets, but it’ll take you until you’re in college or the hands of a subversive high-school physics teacher to find out. Formulas considered too complex for a teenager to learn are dumbed down. Facts are left out, distorted, glossed over: theories are presented as laws, despite any contrary facts. Mostly what you learn from science classes until you hit college is to sit down and shut up.

It’s an exciting time to learn science; the only problem is, you have to learn it in spite of your education.

Well, here you go. Bill Bryson won’t tell you the real formulas, won’t give you the true truth as concealed by highschool textbooks everywhere, but he will tell you how complex the situation is. And he’ll put in the little, human details about scientific history that will make you laugh and shudder with how little we know, and how lucky we are to know what we do know.

I recommend this book to anyone who won’t be angry about it, that is, the people who already know so much about science that this stuff will be old hat. Most of this stuff was old hat for me, but it was so well written and so well questioned that I enjoyed it anyway. Especially it seems like a good (if long!) idea for anyone in high school that’s struggling with science. Why? They ask. Because, their teachers answer. Bill Bryson isn’t a science writer–he mostly writes travel books–and makes things interesting and easy to grasp for the layman.

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