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Posts from the ‘Culture’ Category

The Persistence of Religion

Columbia professor Mark Lilla wrote a very interesting article in this weekend’s New York Times Magazine which deals with the relationship between religious belief and politics (adapted from his forthcoming book, The Stillborn God: Religion, Politics, and the Modern West). It’s an interesting article—one well worth taking the time to read and think about. Among the many interesting issues raised by this article, I was drawn to one in particular—the persistence of religious belief, and what might account for it. Read more

A Simulated Theodicy

I was interested to read this article in this morning’s New York Times. According to Nick Bostrom, an Oxford philosopher, the chances of human beings and our perceived existence on planet earth being a computer simulation are around 20%. John Tierney, the Times writer covering the story, considers this scenario to be even more likely—”almost a mathematical certainty” once we accept some “pretty reasonable” assumptions. Read more

Ad-trocious

I don’t like advertising.

I resent the exorbitant amounts of money that are spent to convince people to buy things that, in all likelihood, they probably don’t need. I resent the pathetically transparent appeals to human pride and vanity that accompany most commercials, and I resent the level of intelligence that most advertisements implicitly assume of their audiences—as if I am really expected to believe, for example, that shaving with four blades (or is it five now? I can never keep track of how close a shave I ought to be demanding from the manufacturer of my grooming products…) will transform me into a ravishingly handsome fighter pilot, barely able to fend off the hordes of gorgeous women who will inevitably be lured my way by the extra micro-millimeter of hair that I have managed, with the benefit of “fusion” technology, to harvest from my face. Read more

iInsanity!

Readers of this blog will know that I have mixed feelings regarding the ubiquitous nature of technology in our culture. On the one hand, I am happy to use it for the things that make my job easier; on the other, I resent the way in which I allow it to monopolize my time and dictate the manner in which I engage with the world around me. I resent the way it conditions us to value the immediate, the visually stimulating, the excessive, the spectacular, and the trivial. Technology giveth and technology taketh away; it is a decidedly mixed blessing. This, in a nutshell, is my view on the matter. Read more

All the Good Music Comes from Across the Pond

Throughout the last week or so I have been making incremental additions to my sad excuse for a music library. One of the occupational hazards of being a student is, obviously, a lack of extra funds to explore and purchase new music. I usually get new music twice a year—July and December, when I get a bit of birthday and Christmas money. And as much as I consider Def Leppard’s greatest hits to be a greatly under-appreciated work here at the dawn of the 21st century, I can only listen to the same songs as I bang away on my keyboard for so long until something gives. Read more

Are You Happy? Should You Be?

The Globe and Mail is currently doing a very interesting feature on happiness. I was particularly intrigued by this article that I came across yesterday which questions our cultural fascination with the “cult of happiness,” both its legitimacy as an enterprise, and its efficiency in achieving the results we crave. We are obsessed with being happy, and when this happiness eludes us, we’re desperate for someone to tell us how to fix the problem. Everywhere we turn, there are no shortages of “life coaches,” psychologists, therapists, and all manner of “happiness experts” eager to lead us (usually for a handsome fee!) to the promised land of rapturous bliss. Read more

The Force is With Me!

I have a confession to make. Until last week, I had never seen Star Wars.

I’ll give you a moment to get over this shocking bit of news.

How it is, you ask, that I have managed to get this far in life in complete ignorance of such a massive cultural symbol? It is a mystery, to be sure. Read more

Lessons in Transit

This morning was a fairly ordinary morning on the bus.

Riding the bus has taken some getting used to for a prairie boy accustomed to wide open spaces, and driving everywhere and anywhere at the drop of a hat. I am not used to having to wait to get anywhere I want to go, and I am certainly not used to being squeezed like cattle into a bus or standing less than a foot away from a total stranger for forty minutes, both of us desperately pretending to look anywhere but at each other. I am not used to standing in the rain on a cold Vancouver morning while three buses blow by because they are full, and I am not used to taking three hours to warm up after the process described above. Read more

Why Blog?

So here goes… the typical “first post” where that pesky question “Why blog?” is usually addressed. For those who know me (and have harassed me to start a blog for some time now), this question becomes even more acute. I have frequently expressed ambivalence toward the whole medium of blogging—you know, typical criticisms such as: Read more