Distributed Mind

"I am sending you out like sheep surrounded by wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves."

Your hosts: J. Lowry, B. Martin.

May 31, 2007


by ben

Incidentally, I hope my raving about conservatives and enviornmentalism isn't offensive. I tried to be nice when making generalizations, but sometimes I'm a little blunt. Also, I was going to clarify my statement that I was inclined to follow the apparent consensus opinion among climatologists, etc. but (1) Firefox ate that post and (2) looking back, I was pretty careful the first time. I realized though that saying things like "well, I'm going to trust the climatologists on this" carries with it a lot of dangerous assumptions, or at least appears to - believe me, I'm no modernist believer in the religion of science (as I tried to indicate in my original post). The reason why I wanted to clarify that was first because I thought it was the weakest point in the post but what finally pushed me over the edge was reading a comment by the late Stephen Jay Gould in the preface to his revised (1996) edition of The Mismeasure of Man defending his right to critique what had traditionally been considered the domain of psychology. His insistence there on the traditional claim that such critiques should be judged on their content and not the qualifications of their authors is absolutely correct, of course. In the world of quick judgments though, I have to admit I sometimes look first to who is making a statement - not all statements are equally trustworthy or informed, and often one can find out a lot about whether the content of a particular critique is worth evaluating in advance simply by checking who the author is. To return to our specific problem, as I said, when Newt Gingrich (who ironically has apparently recently reversed his position on global warming - I'm pretty sure I already knew that but had forgotten it) says something about environmental science, I take it with some skepticism since he is avowedly and openly political. One could also consider things written by people like Bjørn Lomborg or economists (of which I believe there is a lot of literature, though I haven't checked recently). Now, I know that there have also been plenty of critiques of the idea from within climatology and absolutely should those (or even arguments from the aforementioned economists) be evaluated on their merits if there is reason to assume they have any (which is to say, I believe that people who are seriously interested in the theory of anthropogenic global warming will publish in peer-reviewed journals or at least a forum where it will be seen first by scientists even if not peer-reviewed, rather than in the popular press; I mean, shoot, even Alan Sokal had the decency to publish about his hoax in a journal). Now, so far I have not seen too many good arguments though from climatologists against the idea (and I know several points are subjects of debate, though with the mainstream position appearing to stand strong in most of those cases), though there are a few that seemed worth investigating. Certainly one should not be religious about the whole topic - modern science is premised on the idea that people will try to shoot down any given theory. In that sense, as I said before, I agree with some people's concerns that people are indeed turning global warming into an ideology. But just because some people are doing that, let's remember that does not mean the science is automatically wrong.

And this is where we get to a much more complicated issue that I rather side-stepped in the original post. How does one legislate based on science? I mean, we may know that the mainstream opinion among a certain group of scientists is some thing, but we do not know how long such an opinion will hold. It would be foolish to assume any current understanding of science will remain permanently. There are, of course, some theories that are better established than others and action should be taken accordingly in those cases (it would be silly at the moment, for example, for Congress to fund faster-than-light spaceships...) but even those theories are standins for more developed models to come. And some things are much more variable than that. Some well-accepted ideas of science in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries were ridiculous, harmful, or downright directly immoral. But again, we need to be aware that science is not monolithic, and not all theory is equally good, and just because theory may in some cases be adequate, we should not accept every proposed practice built on top of that. Eugenics is a classic example of how not to legislate based on science. A lot of the theory was dubious, but practice was even worse - and we shouldn't take serious the idea that things like forced sterilization were the realm of science (though certainly some scientists tried to put it within the realm of science). I think that the relationship between science (whether natural or social) and policy (especially given the limitations of both) is something that deserves continual and deep consideration. You can take that as a caveat on both sides (though perhaps not euqally) of the global warming debate, for one. But we can't stop there - this an issue that affects us all the time.

Speaking of both eugenics and The Mismeasure of Man... Last week I was whining about statistics and their abuses to one my colleagues, which resulted in that book being brought up. I've been doing a lot of reading on statistics for work lately (more on in another post soon, perhaps) and the idea of doing some non-technical reading about further abuses of them at the same time seemed like a fairly good idea. But, being preoccupied with other things, I did not immediately set out to do so; nor did I have any long-range plans to do so, for that matter. However, on the way to work today, I saw someone carrying a couple bags from the campus book store and the odd thought that they might be having a sale crossed my mind, so I decided to investigate. Indeed they were having a sale; in fact, all books except textbooks were 50% off - way too good to pass up. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how one looks at it, I suppose) there were no books I was even remotely interested in. Well, except for one, the title of which you can guess. Serendipity.

Gould's book is about what he saw as the fatally flawed hypothesis of intelligence as reduceable to a single measurable and rankable number that carries with it some sort of measure of worth or value. Or so I take it so far; I have only gotten as far as the (lengthy) preface to the revised edition so far. This is a topic I've been following with some casual interest since I first heard about Herrnstein and Murray's book The Bell Curve in college and with some additional interest since I read another essay by Murray on the same topic a couple years ago (which led to further reading which led to at least one post on race and crime, for example). In fact, I've been meaning to write something about this from a more philosophical perspective for some time; verily, even this week I considered doing so. I might have to now that I'm reading on the same topic. Basically what I want to lay out is that regardless of the quality of the science underlying such things (which plenty of peopke, Gould included, have taken difference with) we need to be careful how we deal with such things - this goes back to the question of "science" and policy. There's good moral reason to not treat groups or individuals differently based on "intelligence" regardless of what the theory says (and in this case the theory turned out to be pretty bad, though it continues to have a life of its own with people like Charles Murray). Which is sort of like saying "all men are created equal" is an excellent basis on which to build a country regardless of whether scientific opinion agrees with that idea at any given moment or not. But as I said, I think that ought to be a post of its own.

I'll have more to say about statistics soon; I've been reading too much about them recently, but I've picked up a lot of useful stuff about them, and a few more entertaining bits (such as an amusing rant by one of the authors whose book I have here to the effect that chaos as a science is more or less nonsense since noise in data prevents the formation of chaos in the real world).

18:32:33 - General - ben - No comments

March 19, 2007

Literature and Nonfiction Recommendations

by ben

Okay, my major project for this weekend somehow became a list of literature and nonfiction recommendations. It's highly idiosyncratic, of course, since the point is to list things I have found to be of particular value.

02:40:37 - General - ben - No comments

March 14, 2007

Half-Formed Thoughts for March 13, 2007

by ben

Why is it that in this nation we believe that individual economic choice is a fundamental right, but we don't believe in pure democracy, instead adhering to that questionable substitute of representative democracy? I mean, you're telling me that I don't have to go along with everyone else if they choose to buy compact cars instead of SUVs or vice versa, but if a majority of 425 persons in Washington feels like making transporting kittens across state lines illegal or some guy elected by 51% of voters feels that launching nuclear weapons, say is a good idea, then I'm stuck? (Of course, technically I have to go along with a majority of 425 representatives, but we've conveniently dispensed in large part with even that pretense of democracy.) Not that anyone has actually proposed making the transportation of juvenile felines illegal, or proposed nuking anyone, at least not in the last 5 minutes, but you get the point. Frankly, I'd rather be able to vote on everything my representatives in Congress get to vote on than chose whether to buy at the Gap or Old Navy, but that's just me. And besides, if you have a truly democratic socialist country, isn't that in a lot of ways the same as having "economic freedom?" Probably not in the technical sense. Ah, I don't care, I just want democracy.

Incidentally, I do think people should be able to buy what is most relevant for them within reason, and I think people should have the right to seek employment where they want, or start their own business and work for themselves. I'm much less keen on the idea of corporation as individual entity. The idea of freedom is, you know, to give people freedom, not some soulless entities choice. The idea that people shouldn't be forced to go along with certain economic decisions made by others is distinct from the idea that anything that makes more money is a good thing. Not being intimately familar with the history of economics, I'm not entirely clear how all of this relates to the original economic ideas on which our nation's economy was supposedly built. No, I haven't read anything by Adam Smith. Yes, I know I should. It's on the to-do list somewhere, I think. (Consider it moved farther up the list.) Oh, and I did add "within reason" for a, well, reason. We happen to live in what political scientists call a liberal democracy. That implies, among other things, that you can't vote to kill me, for example, just because you don't like me. Similarly, you shouldn't be able to wipe out all the individuals of some species just because you own the land they live on - you don't have the right to take resources, in this case, biodiversity, from the rest of us. And, yeah, I think you might even be able that argument to extend that to whether you get to own handguns or a 2 mpg vehicle (though the application is not always trivial). I mean, I wish you could do whatever you want, but let's face it, sometimes things have consequences.

On a completely different nore, one of the commenters on the post by Fred Clark I linked to brought up "cognitive dissonance." It might be worth reading more about that, come to think of it...

01:47:43 - General - ben - No comments

More on Media Bias

by ben

By coincidence, after what I posted yesterday about media bias and such, I read tonight a post by Fred Clark, "The best lack all conviction" in response to an article in the Washington Post (which I'm inclined to think he was too hard on, but, that's irrelevant to the rest of this discussion). His timing was fortuitous because his post ties in quite well with some anyway of what I was getting at. Basically, in my very rough paraphrase, he claims that (1) while one should always begin by assuming good faith not bad faith (an idea he has addressed in the past) and that (2) the assumption of bad faith can lead to breakdowns in rational discourse, (3) if the assumption of good faith is made and yet the other side seems out of touch with the facts/reality, one might have a basis for questioning motives, and that at any rate, the facts do not cease to matter simply because bias and false assumptions are present. Thus, it must be allowed that persons can be wrong. Just because we know we will assume that as a result of inevitable biases doesn't mean that someone isn't wrong.

Alright, so that's Fred Clark's argument. Even though he doesn't directly deal with media, or even the same type of bias I was talking about yesterday, his argument basically parallels my own: accusations of bias are irrelevant when the facts of the matter are clear. In my case I would also add if the morality of the matter is clear. (In fact, in the case of the war, I'm really not concerned about who knew what when and all that - if preemptive war is wrong, it's wrong, and however nice of a reason you have, if you can't counter that fundamental claim, what basis do we have for discussion? I'm going to stop there before I decide I agree with Alasdair Macintyre in After Virtue.)

Of course, to a certain extent one must be careful about what "clear" means. Perhaps instead of "clear" we should also consider the possibility of "very likely" or "the most likely given the available evidence" with a corresponding weakening of our own right cause in an argument. That is, if the evidence suggests that something is not just somewhat likely, but very likely, but not perhaps certain to the point where we would stake human life on it, or at least the universe's existence, then we might still take that side of the argument, though we need to acknowledge that there is the slight possibility we are wrong/some other side is right - but if some sort of action is required we should take that action, with constant attention to the idea that we could be wrong. This is the sort of end of things where I would consider, say, anthropogenic global warming, as opposed to the immorality of murder which we are all 100% certain of. (And before you become too smug with even that level of certainty, just ask yourself, what would I have done if I was Dietrich Bonhoffer? And I can think of many moral disputes that don't rise to anywhere near that kind of certainty.)

Now, I may be a little more cautious than Fred in that I am, at least at the moment, rather wary of anything that looks too much like ideology. Though, of course, in fact, a lot of my complaints are ideological, but I hope in my case those are usually claims involving morality, in which case ideology is unavoidable. I mean instead, in practical matters. Which isn't to say that I've entirely purged myself of ideological convictions (anti-corporatism?), or even that I necessarily intend to. But where my opion is influend by ideology, I must be aware of that, and I must be even more willing than usual in that case to consider the possibility that my idea is inaccurate or unnecessary.

(And yes, all of this does suggest I would be wise to consider the very remote possibility that opposition to war will bring about some evil world dictatorship ("The City on the Edge of Forever", anyone?) but that doesn't mean, given my disclaimer above about very likely things, that I have to operate under the assumption that possibility is a likelihood. It remains only a possibility, and even less applicable in the case of preemptive wars. And, I have to consider the possibility that for us to base policy on the idea that freedom of movement and freedom of government choice might lead to an overwhelming influx of immigrants that would somehow crush American civilization as we know it thus having the immoral effect of creating additional poverty and suffering. But, that sort of far-fetched outcome with little empirical support is not something that I have to assume will happen, either. It also means that those of us opposed to abortion should be clear on the fact that we don't really know with 100% certainty when "life" begins. And I already mentioned the Bonhoffer dilemma. And so on and so on. )

Okay, so I've strayed very far from my original point, which remains: I don't care what bias any given media entity seems to have, as long as they are correct.

01:06:34 - General - ben - No comments

July 12, 2006

Random Thoughts for July 11

by ben

Although I've had a lot of social contact in the last week, I haven't had any good opportunity to discuss any of the strange ideas I have floating around in my head. Thus, I will unburden them on you, my poor, hypothetical readers.

First, I just came back from Borders where I saw The Language of God by Francis Collins, who was director of the Human Genome Project. The main point seems to be that one can both be Christian and a scientist, though it goes somehwhat beyond that. I skimmed through it a little. It didn't look entirely groundbreaking, but it was somewhat interesting. One of the biggest issues it faced is that certain sections were not very detailed, where perhaps they should have been. The book probably won't be popular in the most conservative circles (Collins prefers theistic evolution and questions the idea that life begins at conception). I'm not sure most agnostics would buy into it either (despite the fact that Collins writes about his own experience as an agnostic and atheist). But, hey, it contributes to the debate, right? It might be worth a read. Anyone volunteer?

I know I have said this before, but... I have discussed in passing twice in the last three days math education. Once was on the sad occasion of a remark by my father that my sister might not be much interested in studying math when she is older. I most certainly hope he is wrong, which he may very well be (after all, I didn't really "get" math until later, myself). The reason all this matters so much is because, as I was explaining in the other conversation on the topic, math is the one thing that no matter how much of it I learn, I can always find some way to put it to use. That may come as a surprise to some people who studies no farther than algebra or geometry or calculus and rarely if ever find themselves applying such skills, but that is more perhaps a byproduct of weak math education than a true lack of need for math. Math is a fundamental tool to explaining and understanding the universe. The most helpful areas of math I have encountered are calculus (obviously - you can't get very far without it) and probability and statistics. But there is so much good stuff that is immediately applicable (some of which I haven't even had a good chance to sit down and read up on, sadly): linear algebra, optimization, theoretical computer science, information theory, and of course graph theory.

Finally, an idea I have been thinking about a long time, that I may have mentioned here before. I have an idea for a publishing ministry - yes, ministry. The idea is that as the early believers' shared everything in common, that publishing for profit, and even copyright as it is presently understood (admittedly that might exclude "copyleft" sorts of approaches such as the GPL or Creative Commons licences), is out of place. In this day of digital publishing, texts can be distributed for almost nothing; charging $20 for a hardcover makes little sense. And having restrictive or expensive licensing restrictions (as for example are not unusual with Bible translations, of all things) for copyrighted texts especially makes no sense. So, the idea is to instead distribute worthy Christian books (or whatever - I think this would work excellently for music as well, for example) digitally for free, and maybe in print for very low cost (probably for a donation of no set amount) for those who can't use the digital texts or are highly desirous of having a print copy or whatever. Now, this would not preclude paying the authors or the staff (after all "the worker is worth their wages," right?): donations would be solicited and accepted to pay authors when appropriate. For most authors this would probably be a fairly small amount (say several thousand), as most full time authors (depending on the type of book) might be able to write a book in a few months, and many authors would probably have other employment anyway (as pastors or professors), and they might want to donate some of their time. It might be useful to support some authors full time (almost as a sort of fellowship, I suppose), though that would of course be much more expensive. Anyway, regardless of what money authors might receive, the idea is that the books would not be sold, or at the very least not for profit, so regardless of how successful a book is the author is always paid for their work and not for their popularity. Furthermore, works would be either public domain or licesned under some appropriate, liberal license so that other authors would be able to freely use the material to produce new scholarship or whatever. Anyway, I think this is a great idea, in the first part because I think it would provide leadership by example for removing commerce from the church (the money changers from the Temple, as it were) as well as providing very practical benefits for those who would use such books. The drawback is that it's a lot of work for little gain: books really aren't all that expensive, so the victory here is almost exclusively symbolic - and for that I am not sure the whole sceme is worth the effort. (Though for the case of music it might be much more useful - Christian music is such a racket...) I might write more about this in the near future, anyway, just in case anyone else might find it of interest.

00:27:48 - General - ben - 5 comments

July 11, 2006

Black Door

by ben

Door, part red, part black

Original image by Mark Waddington, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0. Obviously, under the Creative Commons license, this derivative work is licensed under the same terms.

Need I say this medicore image editing was inspired by a certain Rolling Stones song?

An alternate take:

Door with black swaths

17:03:55 - General - ben - No comments

March 06, 2006

Racists and Crime

by ben

[Update, March 8: This analysis is actually pretty bad; what was I thinking? Most notably, the apparent aggregation of "white" and "hispanic" into "white" screws everything up.]

Lately, masochist that I am, I have been keeping an eye on some of the rhetoric coming out of the racialist camps on the Internet. The first step to defeating an opponent is always understanding the opponent. You have to always make sure not to get sucked in, though. When I saw several times the frequently repeated claim that blacks commit some ridiculous proportion of crime in the United States, a claim that I have seen before but hadn't thought about in a while, it gave me pause. Now, of course, due to certain of my ideological leanings (ones which most conservatives, even arch-conservative backwards ones, should agree with), it doesn't really matter if blacks really did commit crime at a hugely disproportionate rate without any other explanatory factors, since everyone deserves to be treated as an individual. But you know me, I'm not the kind to let that sort of thing fly without ripping it to shreds, so, let me do so.

[Remainder of article]
10:48:27 - General - ben - No comments

March 01, 2006

Yet Another Research Project (YARP)

by ben

I think, unfortunately, that the time has come for me to undertake a more rigorous study of the present economic and social situation in Europe. I tire of hearing (and ocassionally giving) hand-waving arguments for and against the Euroean economic models; I want to see the economic numbers, the opinion surveys, the suicide rates, whatever. I want to know what's really going on over there. We've all read articles about the problems with health care in the U.K. - what about health care in, say, Belgium? Is there any real advantage to doing things the European (nice catch-all, eh?) way? Are the economic costs really worth it? Time to roll over some new rocks. I know what I expect to find, but, will I find it, and if I do, can I convince someone else? Now, if I can just invent enough time to do all of this in...

14:46:25 - General - ben - No comments

Black Hat Christianity

by ben

I finally found a term I like for anabaptists and Quakers: Black hat Christianity. It's cute, succint, and, of course, ironic.

08:00:00 - General - ben - No comments

February 23, 2006

In 2050

by ben

The beginning of a (bad) "story" (more like a thesis with a plot) which will probably never be finished (but who knows?), based in what I hope is not an entirely implausible setting:

Twenty fifty, In One Possible Future

In 2050 although over two-thirds of families in the United States still use English almost exclusively at home, everyone under the age of 35 speaks Spanish as well as if it was a first language, and no one thinks nothing of that fact. The first hispanic president has come and gone, and the current president is a hispanic woman. By gaining a second language and, to a lesser extent, culture, the United States has become more internationally aware than ever. Japanese is now the most popular foreign language course, with Chinese not far behind. Due to the challenges of teaching East Asian languages (even with the advantage of students already being bilingual), language courses begin as early as middle school, or sometimes even in elementary school. (Curriculum in Spanish as a second language, of course, starts in kindergarten or preschool - for those that need it. Although the average student will still take more English courses than Spanish courses, courses in Spanish are common throughout elementary, middle, junior high, and high school.) Arabic courses, while less popular, are pushed heavily still by the federal government despite the waning significance of the Middle East - and since schools are now funded with a centralized pool nationally, it is easy for the federal government to ensure funding is available for an Arabic department at all junior high and high schools. Unfortunately, due to the difficulties of learning Arabic, few students ever develop any real ability, and the government's emphasis on Arabic has been almost counter-productive.

The United States' growing sense of internationalism is useful since while the United States is no longer unchallenged as earth's only superpower, though still the oldest and most important, and soon to be eclipsed by China, Europe, and Japan - and maybe even India, and it needs a savvy approach to international affairs. Now Mexico is invoked in the same sentence with Canada and the United Kingdom as a critical, and assumed, ally. Japan can sometimes be counted on, but their power is still primarily economic, not military, and they are not as close an ally as the United States might wish. The situation in East Asia - balancing the needs and wants of China, Japan, and Korea, while maintaining good relations with all of them - is delicate, preventing too close an alliance with any of the East Asian powers. Because of the introduction of cheap alternative power sources and its drastically reduced oil production (which otherwise might still be of relevance to developing countries), the Middle East no longer holds the economic significance it once did, though culturally and ideologically it still has a heightened role.

00:49:11 - General - ben - No comments

February 14, 2006

A Weblog Recommendation

by ben

Advice: Read David Neiwart's blog regularly. Neiwert is a journalist who blogs primarily about racism, violent rightist movements, and things of that nature - and orcas. Neiwert is a pretty informed and savvy writer (his commenting readers do not always live up to those standards, unfortunately).

I was thinking about Neiwert tonight because I wanted to write here about some disturbing ideological movements passing themselves off as Christian. I want to work on that a little longer, though. In the meantime, Neiwert has lots of useful information worth keeping an eye on.

21:22:31 - General - ben - No comments

October 23, 2005

Web Page from a Past Life

by ben

I was eighteen. I was in college. [My sentences were more than four word long and did not all start with first-person pronouns.] My time was mostly spent playing ping-pong and hanging out. But for one brief moment I knew and cared enough about a topic to create an entire web page devoted to it (thanks in part to my roommate's prodding, of course). I may have overestimated my level of knowledge, but I think I managed to do alright anyway. Since then my interests have shifted, and I lapsed back into being a strict generalist, so it will be a while before I could even attempt to repeat the feat. Classic Games Emulation.

06:55:19 - General - ben - No comments

October 20, 2005

Not Exactly Samuel Johnson

by ben

By the way, I know my last two titles (at least) have been dreadful, and while I think the last post made a good point, it used a terrible analogy. Alas, where is sophistication?

10:13:11 - General - ben - No comments

August 20, 2005

My "To Do" List

by ben

I want to share some of my objectives for the near and slightly-less-near future, mostly just to let everyone (who would that be? our non-existent readers?) know what I am thinking and thinking about these days. (And what I have been thinking about, since obviously these things made it on my list of things to accomplish for some reason.) Most of these things to accomplish are merely things I would like to read, but there are a couple of other things I would like to do, see below.

So, first the really crucial things: I am convinced that I must read The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution of Freedom of Conscience by Roger Williams (as in the co-founder of Rhode Island). It is a dialogue, so probably not easy reading for my aging brain, but it seems to be an essential reading for understanding the relationship between religion and state. Williams was, after all, apparently the first to make freedom of religion a political, rather than merely religious, dogma, and in so doing helped to establish a critical feature of modern liberal democracies.

The second thing is not a single thing, but rather a range of things to choose from. I really want to read something by George Fox or about George Fox. Fox, of course, was the founder of the Quakers, who fit in with the above item by being one of the first Protestant groups to be substantially affected by Rhode Island's freed of conscience (somewhat ironically given that Williams was apparently not fond of the Quakers, at least from a religious perspective). Like Williams, the Quakers were politically progressive - they were one of the first groups in the United States to speak out against slavery, for example. Even if we cannot agree completely with early Quaker theology (though I do find very much I am sympathetic with) they definitely set an example for the interaction of faith and society and the pursuit of justice. (It would also most definitely be worth doing some more reading about the early history of the Anabaptists, whom in some incarnations I also have great respect for.)

I had mentioned previously that I was reading The Canon of the New Testament by Bruce Metzger (which I still have not finished). There are also some other books by him that are high on my list: The Early Versions of the New Testament: Their Origin, Transmission, and Limitations; The Text of the New Testament : Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration; and The New Testament : Its Background, Growth, and Content. This is more a list to buy than read - I don't expect I would be able to read all of those in a timely manner. Also, I note that I am not obsessed with Metzger's works, but that (1) Metzger is quite respected and not generally very controversial and (2) his books seem a good starting point given what I am looking to get out of them, plus (3) it is my personal preference to read a lot by one author and then move on to someone else.

One thing I am actually working on at the moment (as opposed to in the near future) is learning koine Greek, and reviewing some German. Also set for the near future is picking up some elementary Spanish and Korean. If I can gain any proficiency in Greek and Spanish in the near future (and restore some with regard to German) then I will be happy and move on to the next language. (Of which ancient Hebrew is definitely one, and Latin is a probably one. I think Arabic would be useful as well, though Arabic is a much more intense undertaking. There are some other languages that interest me, but they are much less practical for the most part. Swahili, Japanese, and Mandarin are the most practical on that list. Some others would be Old English, some Celtic language, some one of the indigenous American languages, maybe Cherokee, and Yiddish. Oh, and I forgot - I have been tempted to study some French, just so I can go there someday. But I don't think anyone seriously believes I would do that.)

Oh, and I told Justin I would read God's Politics by Wallis.

Plus, I would like to read, believe it or not, some old pulp novels. The only comic book that I ever was really interested in was Batman, but the characters most similar in spirit to Batman actually came from pulp novels, especially of course Zorro. The Shadow actually started else where, but one form he was manifest in was pulp novels. So, I would like to go back and read this stuff. I don't know why... Probably as part of my effort to create the ultimate super hero. (I am working on two concepts right now, both of which are somewhat cliche. One is a fairly traditional super hero-type story, but, of course, better, that owes much to the Shadow, and the other is actually a fantasy story.)

Even less realistic than learning languages, I would really like to create a series of some small documentaries. Although I have some ideas what I would like to cover in such documentaries (mostly things about notable places in Indiana, and also some things about the Amish and Mennonites in the area), the point is more to create some useful educational content the will begin (hopefully) to break the hegemony that is American broadcast, cable, and satellite television. Okay, not much of a hegemony when you put it like that... But the point is I want to create some freely-available content that can be distributed on-demand over the Internet. The technology is most definitely in place, and is being improved every day; what we need is some content to put on it. And I am willing to contribute. If anyone has any grant money for creating eductional content lying around... I don't have any experience, but hey, I'm cheap, and my content is free.

Well, that's it. It's not complete, but its certainly enough to keep me busy for a while.

09:15:47 - General - ben - No comments

June 01, 2005

From Peru

by ben

My very good friend Heather Miller is in Peru on a pretty cool missions trip, and she is keeping a blog. Heather's team is doing research up in the mountains. I have to admit I am a little jealous, but given that (1) I don't speak Spanish (2) I could never take time off to do something like this and (3) I hate adventure, I can't be too jealous. Anyways, there is also a blog for the whole team, and a sehr cool photo album.

06:57:43 - General - ben - No comments

May 29, 2005

Accidentally Deleted Some Comments

by ben

I was cleaning up comment spam, and I accidentally deleted some (I think 2) recent comments :(

01:17:05 - General - ben - No comments

May 12, 2005

IU's Christian Organizations Make Time

by ben

I found out the Time from last week (i.e. May 9th) had an article about (evangelical) faith on campus title "Faith and Frat Boys." All of the on-location was done at Indiana University. Christian Challenge of course didn't make the article, though neither did Evangelical Community Church which has probably one of the two largest college student ministries among evangelical (or maybe any Protestant) churches in Bloomington. Oh, well. They did, however, feature Campus Crusade, Christian Student Fellowship, InterVarsity (and Greek IV), and Navigators. It is so weird to read a national article about where I live. The article even quotes a guy - Lane Bowman - from my home town of Chesterton, IN who I have met before (ironically, he actually went to my home church too, but I didn't meet him till I came here).

The article did not necessarily have anything deeply insightful, but it was okay. It did have some interesting things though - e.g. it mentioned in passing the problems other Christians face when the excessively caustic group from Old Paths Baptist church of Campellsburg, IN comes on campus and calls us all sinners (including the believing students... as the article relates). So it did give some sense of what it is like to be involved in campus ministry at IU.

23:16:14 - General - ben - No comments

May 05, 2005

Starbucks to the Rescue

by ben

Starbucks Mint Mocha Frappucinos now available in bottles...

17:48:41 - General - ben - No comments

April 29, 2005

Yet Another Parable

by ben


00:15:45 - General - ben - 4 comments

April 25, 2005

Comments Work Again

by ben

Okay, comments work again.

02:06:42 - General - ben - No comments

All entries