May 31, 2005

aspartame aftertaste

Kyle sipped his diet soda and thought to himself. Like most, he thought silently, except when he suspected a writer was listening. The writer, though, hid behind a duck blind, observing Kyle through binoculars and jotting notes on grease-sodden napkins. The writer habitually forgot his notebook.

Kyle sat on a park bench because it seemed natural--the sitting, not the bench, which obtruded on an otherwise placid pond scene. He had swept away last week's droppings with his bare hands before landing. This caused the writer no end of theoretical consternation. Kyle sipped again, and again, and again, meditating on a distant billboard.

The writer enjoyed speculating far more than reporting, since it was easier on the imagination. Facts didn't jut out at awkard angles and spoil the narrative arc, or ice up the wings of fancy. Kyle's fifth sip was a deathblow to his Oedipus complex. The sixth shook the very foundations of metaphysics. His seventh startled the writer with its obvious yet subtle elegance.

Kyle's meditations ended as he reached the bottom of the can, sucking out the last few drops of guiltless carbonation. The sour aftertaste of aspartame collided with his thoughts and sent them skittering toward the duck blind. His eyes followed, and he noticed the writer. "Hey," Kyle said.

The writer grabbed notes and pens and binoculars and fled, abandoning the blind to the squirrels.

Kyle crumpled the can, tossed it in a nearby wastebasket, and reminded himself to write a nasty letter to his mother.

[seventeenth in a series]

Q: Who finances Ramtha?

A. Idiots.

[sixteenth in a series]

on the way again

I've closed the gates on the next Smarter than I, which will be up sometime tomorrow. Number Six will be hosted at Locusts and Honey.

May 30, 2005

a moment of truth

DaveScot, on Dembski's blog, goes candid:
I believe the only obstacle to [Intelligent Design]’s success as a valid scientific worldview is defeating Darwin’s exclusive reign as the only valid explanation for life in high school science classes, which is unfortunately the beginning and end of most people’s exposure to evolution-related science....
No need to pretend that ID is or ever will be a fully-established research program that will convince actual scientists, right?*
...The major impediment to this is the establishment clause. What DI has been less than successful at is divorcing ID from religion in the view of the judiciary and to a lesser extent in the court of public opinion. My hope is that the tortured latter 20th century interpretation of the establishment clause gets relegated to the dustbin of history where it belongs as soon as our fearless leader President Bush can make a couple supreme court appointments....
Anyone who thinks that ID is primarily a scientific movement is deluded. This isn't about who has the better explanation for the diversity of life on earth, fossil evidence, or irreducible complexity. It's about power, politics, and popularity. Science is a tangential concern.

Elsewhere, DaveScot has said,
... [A] bible-toting image of ID proponents is exceedingly egregious to me. I’m an agnostic and ID is perfectly suited to that world view.
Yet in calling for a new reading of the Establishment Clause, DaveScot perpetuates that very image.

*Incidentally, I agree that everyone should know more, much more, about evolutionary theory, starting with its opponents.

Coldstone songs tips

I've already expressed my opinion on the subject, but to clarify and expound, I offer a list of suggestions for all involved in the franchise--passers-by, customers, drones, management--to maximize enjoyment of the Coldstone experience.

Yes, that is the proper plural. Go in. Try some ice cream.

As I've mentioned before, pay and tip with a credit card to avoid humiliation. (Not tipping is also an option, but your servers might sing different songs in that instance.)

Practice creative resistance to corporate vacuity. If someone tips, sing only if the boss is watching. Ask if the customer wants you to do your song-and-dance; chances are, they'll decline. Mask the clinking of small change by banging loudly on the cash register and announcing, "Darn this computer, it never works right." Teach your coworkers new lyrics to corporate tunes that, like their spiritual predecessors, are code for your escape to the freedom of a better-paying job. (Do not contemplate the strong possibility that you might have to trade liberty for salary.)

Take the bus home from work, and sit next to the guy who boisterously sings with his iPod, and note the reactions of your fellow travelers when you join in. Take your significant other to Red Robin for a birthday treat, and watch closely as delight, horror, embarrassment, and existential angst cross your partner's face in rapid succession. Sit in the outer reaches of your local baseball stadium, in the non-family-friendly bleachers, right behind Drunk Guy who belts out the national anthem, otherwise known as "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."

Ready to reconsider your tipping policy?

[fifteenth in a series]

May 27, 2005

Jesus sends out the twelve

I am leaving for the weekend, once again daring to sleep with the ducks. Happy Memorial Day.

In my absence, check out some of my (life-less?) neighbors, and send in an entry to the next smarter than I. Because of the long weekend, I'll take them until Monday evening. Just email a link or two (and a blurb, if you want) to

smarterthani AT hotmail DOT com

or, even easier, use this handy-dandy automatic form.

Two days without blogging. Will I survive? Stay tuned...

Update: When the shaking and the headaches subsided, I relaxed and enjoyed a pleasant weekend eating too much meat and drinking too much Pepsi. Highlights included two perfect digs in a pickup volleyball game, five straight soccer goals against two limber Pele wannabes, and a crushing defeat of the same two adolescents in consecutive badminton matches. "You're conceited," one of the teenagers complained after the second embarrassment. "Comes with the win-loss record," I replied. (Props to my brother Matt for helping me hone my skills over the past few summers.)

I'm still taking entries for smarter than I #5.

[fourteenth in a series]

May 26, 2005

girls eating maggots

Shocked by the title? You aren't completely desensitized yet? You can still see with those eyes? You know what bile tastes like? You're tasting it now from just thinking about tasting it? (Perhaps it's contagious, like yawning. You just yawned, didn't you.)

Jody Folkedahl, an award-winning art major on the Dean's List at Southern Oregon University, is reveling in a little mock scandal.
The piece was titled "Bustamante," after Folkedahl's art professor, Cody Bustamante. The canvas included the words: "and she was thinking about her painting professor."

It wasn't the full-frontal nude which caused the painting to be removed, but rather the title which "singled out" a university member, said gallery adviser Karen Finnegan.

The 21-year-old Folkedahl, a native of Roseburg, said the painting grew out of a conversation with her art professor in which Bustamante "said it would be difficult if not impossible these days to create any art that would shock or offend people," said Folkedahl.
I leave it to you, dear reader, to suggest what the next shock-art tactic will be, now that this one's taken.

[thirteenth in a series]

information please

In his "letter Nature wouldn't print," Stephen C. Meyer, after citing his own work in defense of his position, adds a little zinger from a late Brookhaven researcher: theorists argue for intelligent design not only because natural selection and other materialistic mechanisms seem incapable of explaining, for example, the origin of digital information and complex machines in cells, but also because we know from experience that systems possessing such features do invariably arise from intelligent causes. As the pioneering information theorist Henry Quastler observed, "information habitually arises from conscious activity."
Now, if only he had included Quastler's own speculation that his new (for the 1960s) idea
...establishes the possibility of the creation of new information... by an organism much simpler than man, even by a single cell, and even by a prebiological macromolecular system.
Quastler thought the last scenario was improbable, and tried working out the probability of its occurrence, but died before seeing the fruits of the next forty years of scientific discovery.

(Meyer, ostensibly, was alive during much of that time.)

Also: Who says scientists are a humorless lot?

meaning of the puerto rican flag

After a minilesson on symbolism led to a dismal formative assessment, I needed to invent an acronym that would help students catch up on that all-important literary concept. Something as facile as ROY G. BIV or HOMES.

So here it is.

SYMBOL: Something You Might Be OverLooking.

(Unless you're reading The Scarlet Letter, in which case you'd have to be Arthur Dimmesdale to withstand the itching, kvetching persistence of SYMBOLISM.)

We'll see how it goes tomorrow.

[twelfth in a series]

changing wineskins

Just when everyone is ready to write off the antiquated MSM (dinosaur media? old guard media? can we create a better term for this?), along comes David Postman of the Seattle Times, doing what's pretty close to a liveblog of the Rossi / Gregoire election trial in Wenatchee. Keep busting down the barriers, antediluvian media. Insta-opinion for all!

(Check out bloggers' takes at Gregoire-favoring The Horse's Ass or a Rossi-favoring Sound Politics.)

"...he vomits out all of his grief..."

A terabyte of storage on a plastic disc? Welcome to the future.

Whaddya bet they'll just stuff more inane, self-aggrandizing commentaries on them?

joshua golding

Or, an open letter to Google

Dear Google,

I do not deserve to be ranked fifth on a search for Joshua Golding, an upstanding scholar and chair of Bellarmine's department of philosophy. My addition to the library of knowledge on his work is a mere link to this review of a Richard Swinburne tome.

And really, the credit goes to Brian Weatherson, whose tireless efforts to catalogue philosophical papers available online is a labor of love and genius that too often goes unpraised.

So do what you must, Google, and move my piddling entry to the bottom of the link pile where it belongs.


Jim Anderson

[eleventh in a series]

May 25, 2005

Thurston County slogans

(Not to be confused with the official Thurston County motto, which doesn't exist.)

Just like King County, except smaller and liberaler.

We can pronounce "geoduck." Can you?

You can afford to live here, for now.

Rednecks and Greeners all.

Slow down.

Most of us know how to vote right.

The capital city is Olympia, dammit.

[tenth in a series]

join the dark side and get a cookie

What, the previous offer wasn't good enough?

You drive a hard bargain, Mr. / Ms. Nerd. But the Dark Side needs hard-driving people.

Fine then. I'll throw in a cookie. Chocolate chip, steaming hot, moist and succulent, with a delicate balance of dough and chocolate. Real butter, not shortening or margarine or that soy crap. Tiny crumbs breaking apart on the tip of the tongue. Savory melting morsels of the finest cocoa. Tiny flakes scraped from the armpits of the Keebler elves. Love and goodness in every bite. Baked in a facility that processes nuts.

[ninth in a series]

noun and verb twins

Nouns and verbs are fun.

The fly would bat last because it couldn't hold on; the bat would fly toward the pitcher.

Do you salt your pepper, or pepper your salt?

He bricked the shot. Furious, he shot a brick.

Paste your name on this contract, and I'll name this paste after you.

If you proceed to cut out the middleman, you'll be sure to get a bigger cut of the proceeds.

[eighth in a series]

a fond farewell... for now

He's leaving, but he'll be back. They always come back.

Update: So will he.

improv yourself

Capital High School's third annual first-ever improv comedy show was a smashing success. Last night ten CHS students (okay, one was an Olympia HS defector) wowed an audience of 70+ with their newly-discovered improv talents. I was lucky enough to host.

It took a month of training and practice--half of them had no previous improv experience--and a few last-minute adjustments, but in the end we ran through about fourteen different games with mostly hilarious results.

One teacher in attendance suggested that we put on a show twice a month, and build up a "cult following." That's just what we need.

May 24, 2005

white people love Ichiro

It's true. After all, I'm white, and I love Ichiro with all my heart. I have an Ichiro shrine hidden inside a book closet in my classroom where I secretively burn unscented incense during breaks.

In fact, everybody loves Ichiro. Ichiromania is the one thing people of all creeds, colors, ethnicities, dispositions, and nationalities can agree upon, our best hope for world peace.

Follow his example. Stretch often. Swing at everything. Foul off the pitches you don't like. Stretch some more. Smile like you're worth 12.5 million per annum.


[seventh in a series]

a list of jesus's 12 disciples

1. Pat
2. Kirk
3. Mel
4. Charlton
5. Deborah
6. Chuck
7. Deion
8. Alice
9. Kim
10. Reggie
11. Bruce
12. David

[sixth in a series]

the snakes join

a fable

Long, long ago, when blogging was something people didn't mention in polite company, there lived a curmudgeon with two pet snakes. Cobras, actually; spitting cobras with deadly aim. The curmudgeon would perch them on his cottage porch, where they kept visitors at a distance by practicing their target-acquiring skills on local rodents....

One blustery autumn afternoon a peddler approached the cottage, pushing a cart piled with shoes, hats, purses, belts, shirts, wallets, purses, all leather--all snakeskin. The peddler had wasted most of his cart-pushing energy keeping his wares from wafting away on the wind, so he pulled his cart inside the gate to catch his breath.

The curmudgeon, quietly blogging in his living room, glanced up from his laptop to espy the peddler. "This ought to be good," he said to no one in particular, and commenced liveblogging the incident.

Fear ussss said the cobras' devilish tongues as they mustered up their most toxic toxins. Their hisses went unheeded by the peddler, who could hear only his gasping.

One shot a stream of poison toward the peddler's feet as a warning. The peddler looked up, startled, and saw the flared hoods and bared fangs. "What are you on about, you fine slitherers, you?" The wind seemed to calm as his breaths quieted.

His steady voice surprised the cobras, who somewhat abashedly responded.

We're protectionisssst ssssnakessss, said the first. We keep our masssster ssssafe, added the second.

"Does he pay you well?"

We've never conssssidered that, said the first, and the second nodded in agreement. His porch is comfortable, and he keepssss ussss in rodentssss.

The peddler, emboldened, took a purse from the cart. Filled with coins, it clinked as he brought it to the cobras. "I'll pay you five gold pieces per week, each, if you'll keep my cart safe from thieves." The snakes glanced at each other, and nodded again.

The curmudgeon could no longer contain his curiosity. He leapt up from his laptop and burst out onto the porch. "I say," he shouted, "Are you trying to steal my very fine snakes?"

Quick as a blogger to an opinion the cobras spattered his eyes with their deadly neurotoxins. The curmudgeon collapsed, writhing and screaming in agony. Quicker still, the peddler whipped out a scalpel and beheaded the cobras. He then deftly sliced their shiny skins into fine strips and sewed them together into a very fine belt, which he sold for six gold pieces at the next stop.

[fifth in a series]

May 23, 2005

a monster for kids in English

Due to the immense amusement I've enjoyed at Georgiana Preskar's expense, I have to say this: she has the tenacity of a Bobo doll. She gets back up and keeps bilge-tossing no matter how many times my brother pounds her illogic into the ground.

I note this gem from her website:
They use many books in SEED trainings; one of them is called Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen. It encourages the further breakdown of traditional beliefs.
When mind control experts start planting books that cast doubt on their whole enterprise, you have to question their brainwashing savvy.

[fourth in a series]


incoherent thoughts on Intelligent Design

I suppose I am pro-neo-Darwinist, if that means I am compelled by the preponderance of evidence for common descent and speciation through natural selection and a gaggle of other interesting processes. (Retroviruses! Gene duplication! Symbiosis! The biological fun never stops.)

I find "Intelligent Design," as it is currently represented, intriguing but misguided. For although IDers claim to have defeated a Darwinian rendition of descent-with-modification through such mechanisms as universal probability bounds, search spaces, missing links, and specified and/or irreducible complexity, ID's victory as a philosophical program is assured even if its attacks on modern biology fail completely.


Simple--because ID has a maw so gaping it can gobble up all biological data sets. Let me explain how.

Suppose Darwin is wrong. Biologists shamefully turn in their lab coats and declare that no amount of selection, natural or otherwise, could account for the diversity of life on earth. "It is obviously a Designer's doing," they grudgingly admit. The ball is fumbled in the end zone; the game goes to ID.

On the other hand, suppose Darwin is right. Biologists continue carefully showing, experiment after observation, just how organisms have evolved over the eons. "It is obviously a Designer's doing," ID proponents argue. "After all, if an intelligent human can create a computer program to simulate evolutionary processes, doesn't that prove that evolution itself is the product of an Imaginative Designer?" The kick is up and good; the game goes to ID.

When playing on both sides of the ball, how can ID lose?

Let's examine a different problem. If ID is right, then either of two propositions is true:

1. Some things are designed, or

2. Everything is designed.

The former is trivial. The latter, though, introduces a reductio ad absurdum for the serious-minded theist. If everything is designed, there is no way to detect design, because there is nothing that shows the hallmarks of non-design. A cloud, a rock, a tree, a puzzle, a broken watch, an oil slick, all are evidence of design--and therefore none is. Dembski's three-part filter--Law, Chance, and Design--is meaningless in a theistic universe in which Law and Chance are epistemological misnomers for God's handiwork. To use C.S. Lewis's memorable phrase, the Design Filter "saws off the branch it is sitting on."

[third in a series]

how to join the dark side

You go, nerd.

Update: Or, learn how to score tenure. Congrats, Mr. Rowe!

[second in a series]

May 22, 2005

Oliver! and consciousness raising

Oliver! is...

triumphant despite its bleakness
cheery in a dingy, very British way
a palatably disturbing call to class warfare and critique of the reigning capitalist paradigm
not as dark as Dickens
a period piece that transcends both time and genre
a musical with guts
a hodgepodge songfest populated with unsavory characters
the Fagin Agoniste
acres and acres of saccharine
the must-see movie of 1968 after Planet of the Apes, Night of the Living Dead, The Producers, Romeo and Juliet, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Yellow Submarine
a movie I haven't seen in a great, great while

[first in a series]

Church-detested, Jesus-approved

I thought I'd pitch into the ongoing discussion--prompted by Ed Feser joined by Jon Rowe and Ed Brayton--about natural law, especially in its application to sexual activity.

I won't echo what's been said already, but I will point out that Biblical morality doesn't seem to square with natural law as Feser describes it. Feser writes,
For the same reason, not every human intervention in the natural order counts as "unnatural." Putting eyeglasses on doesn’t "interfere with nature" in a sense that traditional natural law theory would take exception to, because what glasses do is remedy a defect that keeps eyes from performing their natural function. The point of glasses is not to interfere with an organ’s performance of its natural function, but rather to aid it in performing that function. By contrast, the point of birth control devices is to stop an organ from performing its natural function. So such devices do "interfere with nature" in a sense that is illicit from the traditional natural law point of view.

I propose one example to disrupt the harmony between this and Biblical morality: the eunuch.

Jesus's words in Matthew 19:11-12 (KJV):
Jesus replied, "For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it."

If anything would be unnatural and contradictory to the function of sex, it would be castration, the severest form of male birth control. Yet it is approved by Jesus, perhaps echoing the text of Isaiah 56:4-5, which affirms that eunuchs have a special place in God's heart.
For this is what the LORD says:
"To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
who choose what pleases me
and hold fast to my covenant-

to them I will give within my temple and its walls
a memorial and a name
better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
that will not be cut off.

Eunuchs, who cannot further their "name"--their progeny--are promised a name that will not be "cut off." Rather scintillating word play.

But compare the contradictory passage at Deuteronomy 23, wherein eunuchs--along with illegitimate children, Ammonites, and Moabites, sorry--are forbidden from entering "the assembly of the LORD."

The Catholic prohibition of self-sterilization, begun at the first Council of Nicaea and defended in Paul VI's Humanae Vitae, obviously takes the Deuteronomist position against Jesus's own words and Isaiah's promise.
"[W]e must once again declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun, and, above all, directly willed and procured abortion, even if for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as licit means of regulating birth. Equally to be excluded, as the teaching authority of the Church has frequently declared, is direct sterilization, whether perpetual or temporary, whether of the man or of the woman."

Anyone care to reconcile the contradiction?

search me

Update: Now that it's reached its fortieth sixtieth eightieth birthday, I'm reposting this. Be amazed at the crazy searches that lead people hither.

Originally posted May 22, 2005.

Randomness and creativity are twin strands in the double helix of art, linked by hydrogen bonds of fun and van der Waals forces of excitement.

In a new series of articles, I'm going to title each entry with search terms once used to land on this very blog, and create something original based on what I imagine the searcher was looking for.

Hopefully, this will help future Googlers find better answers, and spur me on to new heights of relevance.

But no more jabbering: on to the series.

1. Oliver! and consciousness raising
2. how to join the dark side
3. pro-neo-darwinism
4. a monster for kids in English
5. the snakes join
6. a list of Jesus's 12 disciples
7. white people love Ichiro
8. noun and verb twins
9. join the dark side and get a cookie
10. Thurston County slogans
11. Joshua Golding
12. meaning of the Puerto Rican flag
13. girls eating maggots
14. Jesus sends out the twelve
15. Coldstone songs tips
16. Who finances Ramtha?
17. aspartame aftertaste
18. artificial blue roses
19. jody folkedahl
20. spelling bee fainting
21. than me or than I?
22. human weirdness
23. astrology chart prediction on Michael Jackson, 2005
24. Jesus's cryptic parables
25. rag peddler Jesus
26. what's wrong with flowery prose?
27. historical views of children
28. Splenda Hippocampus
29. statistics on rage towards umpires
30. how to get liars to admit the truth
31. I like to contradict myself
32. quotable quotes on restaurant ambience
33. your baby can read critical analyses
34. is Achilles a hero?
35. utilitarianism and wet-nursing
36. statistical data on premarital sex in the Phil's.
37. the grinch that stole christmas anagrams
38. yes in difernt language
39. Almond Joy has nuts
40. quick thing on real elephants
41. practical exercise for light English teaching
42. what was Jesus's philosophy?
43. communicatin' with the dead
44. how to avoid temptation
45. spanking can lead to bad behavior
46. reasons to love teaching
47. mad cow jello risk
48. artificial ballywho
49. Jim Anderson, God
50. how to make sure sperms are alive
51. Barbies with stinky breath
52. what the 12 disciples' names mean
53. Tim Eyman is anti-gay
54. the truth behind The Exorcism of Emily Rose
55. super bowel commercials sprint
56. proper casket viewing attire
57. four reasons evolution isn't right
58. triskaidekaphobia statistics
59. Jesus's real name
60. mock diamonds
61. "beanie baby" chaps cowboy directions
62. who invented nose hair trimmers?
63. how to make your sperms stronger
64. Jesus's birth certificate
65. who predicted NCAA bracket correctly
66. what's gonna happen to me in the future?
67. what was the name of Mercutio's brother?
68. Mason rules. Gators drool.
69. Kentucky's Nostradamus
70. unnamed poem by Jim Anderson
71. magnetic laundry system
72. statistical data on Anna Nicole Smith
73. Dear Lord, can you clear up my acne?
74. Romeo and Juliet: condensed version
75. you should not do that
76. toxoplasmosis telepathy
77. twelve disciples anagrams
78. the moral teaching of butter
79. proper attire for teaching
80. how to do parallel parking in US
81. Coldstone auditions
82. logic question to ask random people

Times, Blogosphere Part Ways

Blogosphere to keep CD collection, photos


NEW YORK -- In announcements lacking the vitriol that has marked The New York Times' relationship with the Blogosphere, friends close to both stated that the two are splitting up for good.

Cherlynn Janowicz, speaking for The Times, said that the constant stream of hectoring, quibbling, and fact-checking eventually destroyed what had always been a rocky marriage. "The Times would brush its teeth, and the Blogosphere would complain that it was leaving little spit marks on the mirror," Janowicz claimed. "If the Times sent a dozen roses to apologize, the Blogosphere would ask for a receipt."

A representative of the Blogosphere, Marilee Smith-Becker, cited "irreconcilable differences" and persistent mistrust as grounds for the separation. "I never thought they were right for each other," she said. "They would fight in public all the time, have these really embarrassing arguments in restaurants."

The Times is currently staying at a local Super 8 Motel, and would not return calls.

The Blogosphere reportedly burned a stack of letters in the fireplace this morning, eyes rimmed red after a night of sobbing.

thesis, meet antithesis

My brother is eminently reasonable, so it is quite amusing to watch him wrangle with a crank.

May 21, 2005

very well then: part III

Since initially disagreeing with Hugh Hewitt's rather cautious remarks about blogging and defamation law, I've taken it upon myself to research the issue. I trundled down to TESC's library this afternoon, and came away with a cache of useful material. (Yes, I consider this fun.) My weekend reading, to complement lesson planning and grading:

Ken Kraus and Dan Polatsek, "Enforcement of foreign media judgments in the aftermath of Gutnick v. Dow Jones & Co." Communications Lawyer; Spring 2004; pp. 23-27.

Christopher J. Peters, "Dow Jones & Company v Gutnick: an opportunity foregone?" University of Queensland Law Journal; 2003; 22, 2, pp. 263-266.

Uta Kohl, "Defmation on the Internet--Nice decision, shame about the reasoning: Dow Jones & Co Inc v Gutnick. The International and Comparative Law Quarterly; Oct 2003; 52, 4; pp. 1049-1058.

Tomas A. Lipinski, Elizabeth A. Buchananan, and Johannes J. Britz, "Sticks and stones and words that harm: Liability vs. responsibility; section 230 and defamatory speech in cyberspace." Ethics and Information Technology; 2002; 4, 2; pp. 143-158.

Jonathan A. Friedman and Francis M. Buono, "Limiting tort liability for online third-party content under section 230 of the Communications Act." Federal Communications Law Journal; May 2000; 52, 3; pp. 647-665.

Thomas G. Ciarlone Jr. and Eric W. Wiechmann, "Cybersmear may be coming to a website near you: A primer for corporate victims." Defense Counsel Journal; January 2003; 70, 1; pp. 51-64

Eric M. D. Zion, "Protecting the e-marketplace of ideas by protecting employers: Immunity for employers under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act." Federal Communications Law Journal, May 2002; 54, 3; pp. 493-516.

I'll post an essay once I've slogged through all of them and have something coherent to say. My cursory take, though, is that Hugh's alarmist tone isn't entirely warranted.

See also:

very well then, I contradict myself
very well then: part II

take a crazy ride through time: May edition

What were they saying a year ago?

"I think I'm far too cynical to sit through graduation speeches without the desire to heckle. Despite the hyperbolic pretensions of the commencement speakers, who always seem to be prepping for a career giving motivational seminars to Pizza Hut employees, there is hardly a word spoken in them that applies to even 1/10th of the graduating class." Ed Brayton, Dispatches from the Culture Wars

"It is a difficult thing to face, the feeling that your life is wasting away. I can't imagine how hard the feeling will be when I'm forty, and am wondering why I haven't done more with my life. Four years of time wasted is hard enough--forty will be unbearable." Matt Anderson, Mere Orthodoxy

"I have been kicking paper balls made out of nasty newspaper articles around the house. I also painted my eyelids with a red lipstick to see how I would look like as a vampire. Pretty impressive. But the stuff doesn't come off very easily, and now I look like I have been crying for hours. Actually, it goes with being grumpy quite well." Echidne, Echidne of the Snakes

"I make no secret of the fact that I think Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields is a song-writing genius, and this new album hasn’t altered that opinion at all. He has a lugubrious baritone voice that renders his wonderful lyrics as wistful or deadpan hilarious as appropriate." but she's a girl...

"You know, just the other day I was thinking that, merely by being born in America, I am endowed with a superlative sense of morality that sets me above the people from other countries. Fortunately, I now have Town Hall columnist Cliff May to disabuse me of that notion." Jason Rosenhouse, Evolutionblog

"When I talk to religious conservatives about the libertarian compromise, I usually frame the hypothetical question this way: If you were guaranteed the absolute right to practice your religion, speak your mind on any issue, say anything you want publicly about homosexuality and never fear prosecution, or any type of state enforced persecution—in other words, “to be (absolutely) left alone”—but in order to get this protection, these same rights must also be granted to hard core pornographers, would you take this deal? And I usually get a look or a response like I’m the Devil." Jon Rowe

"Like persuading my mother to plug in the shredder and begin thinking about the initial procedures for commencing to inaugurate the opening stages of how to plan to get rid of newsweeklies from the mid-1990s, and fixing my father-in-law’s lawn-sprinkler system so that it will not only run for 30 minutes every other day except during leap years in every other sunspot cycle, but it will also co-ordinate its CPU with that of his burglar alarm and call-blocking system, so that if an intruder breaks into their house and attempts to receive a call from a telemarketer, he will be promptly and embarrassingly drenched to the skin." Michael Bérubé

"It used to be that spending a long lazy morning with a cup of coffee and the Sunday paper was a relaxing exercise, rather than a stressful one. Now that I've purged a few vile humors here, I think I'm going to spend a soothing few hours in the lab with my fish. And then I'm going to take a peaceful, calm walk in the cemetery." PZ Myers, Pharyngula

"Am I celebrating America's failure or wishing that America would lose? No. I am lamenting America's failure, because in the war of ideas, we've already lost." Jason Kuznicki, Positive Liberty

"Teachers, one routinely hears, go the extra-extra mile, putting up with low pay, bratty kids, unsympathetic parents, lousy administrators, faulty air conditioners, broken desks, blah blah blah. Yes, we're heroes, walking high above the world in golden boots." yours truly

See also: April's crazy ride through time

smarter than I #5: the homecoming

The fifth Smarter than I will be hosted where it began, here at decorabilia. For those of you who haven't yet experienced it, here's how it works: instead of sending in your own work, which every other (great) carnival is for, you nominate the best posting in the last few weeks by someone else, especially if that someone else isn't getting her proper due.

To use PZ Myers' phrase, this promotes "more distributed linkage." As Timothy Sandefur writes, "Good idea—I’ve wondered why this hasn’t been the way before."

It's the easiest carnival to join, too. Just email a link or two (and a blurb, if you want) to

smarterthani AT hotmail DOT com

or, even easier, use this handy-dandy automatic form.

Entries are due Monday, May 30th by 5:00 p.m. PST, and will be published the following day.

We reserve the right to limit quantities. Batteries not included. No shirt, no shoes, no service. Floss daily.

Read up on past editions here:

statement of purpose
#1 at decorabilia
#2 at l'esprit d'escalier
#3 at Pseudo-Polymath
#4 at Science and Politics

If you're interested in hosting a future edition, email me at smarterthani AT hotmail DOT com.

(Thus far, our photographic parade of geniuses includes Albert Einstein, Margaret Atwood, Stephen Hawking, George Washington Carver, and Maxine Hong Kingston.)

May 20, 2005

I saw it at school

1. Deconstructing Gumby: The Movie

So much subtext! Gumby fights against the Blockheads' predatory lending scheme by holding a Farm Aid-style benefit concert, as Prickle the yellow dinosaur warns, "Borrowing money is dangerous." Oblique drug references, sexual innuendoes, bizarre technological tropes--what more could you want?

2. The second fire alarm this week thanks to an overzealous construction company.

3. A t-shirt reading, "I brake for Pop Tarts."

4. One of my students had a backpack stuffed full of old papers. When he went digging for a short story he's working on, he uncovered two "lost" paperbacks, an entire trimester's worth of journals, and a year's worth of course syllabi. I helped him recycle what he didn't need. "Be careful," said his buddy. "It kind of smells bad." Now we're going to have a weekly clean-out session.

5. One hundred twenty-odd (and the "odd" is no accident) students, who make my job exasperatingly satisfying.

May 18, 2005

a blogging lexicon

There are several key words you must employ if you wish to eviscerate your opponents. ("Eviscerate" is one of them.) The following lexicon is for your perusal, enjoyment, and use. Think of it as the pepper in your blogging stew, or as the glint on your razor-sharp logic, or the ______ of your ___________ ___________. (Fill in your own metaphor.) Clichés are included so you may avoid them like... the... pestilence.

By the way, it's a work in progress, and suggestions are welcome. If you know of any other Ambrose Bierces in the blogsmos, post your link as a comment.

(For a much more serious dictionary of blogging, see The Blogging Glossary.)

Blather (verb). See: bloviate.

Blogger (noun). An expert on any given topic.

Bloviate (verb). To opine ad nauseam, ad libitem. To go on past courtesy, custom, reason, and necessity. To filibuster through a kazoo. To pontificate liberally. To fill the least possible space with the most possible verbiage. He bloviated for six hours about the political significance of the Peloponnesian inchworm.

Bromide (noun). A vacuous truism.

Demagoguery (noun). Brazen appeals to the passions and prejudices of the mob; the raison d'être of the blogosphere.

Derision (noun). Jeering attention, better than none at all. See: Scorn.

Dilettante (noun). See: blogger.

Egregious (adjective). Outlandishly bad. Axis-of-evil bad. Really, really bad.

Eviscerate (verb). To disembowel an argument with surgical precision.

Fisk (verb). To refute line-by-line, often with the gusto and accuracy of a child batting a piñata. Noun: Fisking.

Half-baked (cliché). Overdone.

Hoist on one's own petard (Shakespearean cliché). Auto-fragged.

Hypocrisy (noun). The price of admission into politics; the lowest common denominator of humanity; the first refuge of a bigot.

Looney-tunes (adjective). Overwhelmed by joie de sottise.

Luddite (proper noun). One who musters every sort of technology to rail against technology.

Maroon (noun). See: Moron.

Moron (noun). See: Maroon.

Objectivity (noun). Superiority of hindsight.

Puncture (verb). See: Skewer.

Rail against (cliché). To angrily bloviate.

Sarcasm (noun). An endearing mode of discourse obvious to the writer but invisible to the reader. Sarcastic.

Satire (noun). All God's truth. Satirize, Satirical.

Scorn (verb). To ridicule from a distance.

Skewer (verb). To stab through with a sharp implement of right reason.

Tinfoil hat (noun). An aluminum skull-fitting that protects the wearer from good sense. Also, the wearer of such. See also: wingnut.

Truism (noun). Like truth the same way Communism is like communes.

Utterly devoid of fact (cliché). Reasonable.

Vacuous (adjective). Promised by a politician.

Wanker (noun). One gone blind from the obvious.

Wingnut (noun). A liberal to a conservative, a conservative to a liberal, a moderate to either, or all to a libertarian. Wingnuttery, wingnuttish.

very well then: part II

This follows up on a previous post about Hugh Hewitt. The question: are bloggers liable for the defamatory statements left in the comments section?

Because I'm the sort who loves to fact-check, I've been digging through articles on the Blumenthal / Drudge affair on Proquest. Hewitt is right that the litigation in the Drudge case was long and expensive, but he ignores salient facts:

1. Blumenthal, who had sued Drudge for libel and AOL because it hosted Drudge(1), ended up settling by paying $2500 to Drudge (2), and lost his suit against AOL (3).

AOL's role, according to Bill Miller of the Washington Post:
The company believes it is protected by language buried deep in Section 230 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which states, "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider."

AOL also cites two recent defamation suits against the company in which Section 230 was invoked. In Zeran v. America Online, a user posted false information about Kenneth Zeran, who was not an AOL subscriber. When Zeran called America Online and complained, it removed the messages immediately and terminated the account used to post them. Zeran sued anyway. A court ruled that AOL was not liable for content provided by someone else.
(Whether this was a good decision is debatable; as Ian Ballon writes, "The Fourth Circuit ultimately may have reached the right result in the Zeran case for the wrong reason" (4). A list of other relevant cases can be found here.)

The courts have consistently ruled in favor of protecting third parties from defamation suits involving 47 USC 230. Carafano v. sets an important precedent. From the 9th Circuit decision:
The Court then applied the law to the facts of this case. It held that "The fact that some of the content was formulated in response to Matchmaker's questionnaire does not alter this conclusion. Doubtless, the questionnaire facilitated the expression of information by individual users. However, the selection of the content was left exclusively to the user. The actual profile 'information' consisted of the particular options chosen and the additional essay answers provided. Matchmaker was not responsible, even in part, for associating certain multiple choice responses with a set of physical characteristics, a group of essay answers, and a photograph" [emphasis added].
Comments on a blog would be a similar situation; the user, not the host, is liable for content, if I'm reading this correctly.

If I'm wrong, or if you know more about the situation regarding international law and the internet, let me know--and please, leave a comment.

(1)"The Tangled Web of Libel Law; Suit Raises Questions of AOL's Function."
Linton Weeks. The Washington Post. Washington, D.C.: Aug 30, 1997. p. A.01

(2) "Blumenthal Pays $2,500 To Settle Drudge Suit." Wall Street Journal (Eastern edition). New York, N.Y.: May 4, 2001. p. B.8

(3) "AOL Off the Hook in Drudge Case; Internet Services Not Liable for Content, Judge Rules." Bill Miller. The Washington Post. Washington, D.C.: Apr 23, 1998. p. B.01

(4) Zeran v. AOL: Why the Fourth Circuit is Wrong. Ian Ballon. Journal of Internet Law. March 1998.

May 17, 2005

sneezes for Jesus

Even though I moved a month ago, the broadcast mailer from Saint Matthew's Churches still finds me. Sadly, though, the Jesus-faced prayer rug has been downgraded to a mere prayer handkerchief.

Their shtick reminds me of a great scam I once read about (I promise, I only read about it). It's simple, brilliant, and effective. Oh, and criminal, so don't do it.

The con artist sends out a silly little newsletter called "Free Stock Advice" or some such nonsense, padding it with truisms about the market (investment is risky! you can make money if you pick the right stocks!), along with--and this is key--a prediction about where the DOW will go in the next week. Let's say he mails out, oh, 1800 copies.

Here's the trick: a third say it'll go up, a third say it'll stay flat, and the last third say it'll slide.

Next week, he mails a fresh batch of similar newsletters, but only to the six hundred who received the right prediction. He repeats the process--200, 66, 22--until he's whittled his client list down to true believers in his amazing supracognitive powers. Now they'll buy whatever he's selling.

There's a sucker added to a database every minute.

overheard in sophomore English class

Don't let anyone discriminate against you because you're underage. Take responsibility, take charge. You can make a difference.

"Come on, Mr. Anderson, we've heard those bromides before, and we know just how meaningless they are. We're sixteen. We can't even vote."

So what?

May 16, 2005

very well then, I contradict myself

Hugh Hewitt, summarizing some remarks made at the second annual Personal Democracy Forum:

We did have an exchange on comments/no comments, and I got to air my view that comments sections are defamation/copyright time bombs waiting to go off, and that hostiles will figure out soon enough how to post defamatory/copyrighted material on blogs they don’t like with the hope of provoking crippling lawsuits.

As a non-lawyer, I defer to interested legal experts as to the plausibility of this scenario. My initial take, though, is that nearly every move on the internet is fully traceable, so the blog owner isn't the one to go after. We don't prosecute building owners who get tagged with swastikas, do we?

Hewitt continues:
I also got to argue that comments section hold down the growth of new blogs by giving easy access to text to folks who should be out earning their audience and thus planting new trees in the opinion journalism forest rather than just new branches to already tall trees.
This is an odd claim that begs for evidence. It is like complaining that letters to the editor stunt the growth of newspapers--every person a reporter! Furthermore, it runs counter to my own blogging experience.

Over a year ago, I first discovered blogs. I dipped my toes in and read, waded out further and made my first comments, and, after a few weeks, decided to plunge in with a blog of my own. I had already spent (wasted?) years chatting before ever seeing the word "blog," so I wasn't exactly a neophyte on the net, but comments provided a transition period.

Hugh is gung-ho for the accountability that blogs supposedly bring to the mainstream media. Comments are a great form of accountability for blogs. (Trackbacks help, but their use is sketchy and not yet widespread enough.) Let's suppose Hugh reads this. Is he obligated to link to a critic? Hardly. Will he? Perhaps. But it is much, much easier to ignore an emailed link or distant critic than it is to delete a comment (though the latter is much more weasely).

Compare Hewitt's thoughts about comments with his own words right above them:
...we did have the very interesting --in fact compelling—use of the projection of the forum chat room on the wall behind us. This made the audience a real participant in the conversation, especially the snarkiest of commentators. This is an evolution in conferences, and I urge its immediate adoption. If you don’t like being mocked by a live audience in real time, then don’t be a talking head [emphasis added]

If Hewitt-the-blogger wants a "live audience in real time," comments are the way to go.

Update Hewitt has further thoughts and links.
I want to assure Steven that defamation is his problem if the individual defamed is defamed in a comments section run by Steven. The same holds true for copyright. If Iago the commentator gores off on a personal enemy in a comments section --especially if that enemy is not a public figure and is a non-participant in the comments section-- but posts defamatory material, that is the site operator's tortious conduct as much as it is Iago the poster, who has probably tried to cover his tracks. Recall when Drudge hit Sidney Blumenthal with a charge the later thought defamatory --the litigation was long and expensive [all errors in original].
Again, I'll defer to the lawyers on this one.

Also, I note that Technorati doesn't list my contribution to the discussion--which is why comments are much more useful.

smarter than I #4: aloft

Smarter than I #4 is up at Bora Zivkovic's Science and Politics. Check out great examples of writing chosen by savvy readers.

A huge thank-you to Bora for hosting. If you'd like a turn, email me at smarterthani AT hotmail DOT com.

The next Smarter than I will be published on Monday, May 30th (or so) at an undisclosed location.

Read up on past editions:

statement of purpose
#1 at decorabilia
#2 at l'esprit d'escalier
#3 at Pseudo-Polymath

May 15, 2005

Sunday rants

Nick Matzke has a dream.
Once, just once, I would like to see one of this nation’s many fine science journalists do an investigative report on the major “scientific” claims of the ID movement. Intelligent Design has about the same level of intellectual credibility as homeopathy or HIV-AIDS denial (Hey, Michael Powell, why didn’t you ask Johnson about that?”). This is something that should be exposed, not treated with kid gloves by politics reporters who can’t assess the scientific questions.

Ed Brayton has a bone to pick.
So the IDers have learned from this that if you don't try to establish what actually happened, or where and when it happened, you can't be shown to be wrong. Vagueness as compelling argument.

PZ Myers has a florid imagination.
I swear, if there were any truth to their metaphysical codswallop, the shades of Cope and Marsh and the Sternbergs would have manifested in that courtroom to denounce them, and the floor would have cracked open beneath their feet to allow a spectral tylosaur to rise up and gulp them down.

picture this

It had a cool, Joe Carteresque title, so I checked it out. I was going to read it carefully and write a long-winded review. But I threw it down in disgust.

The title? Thinking Like Einstein: Returning to Our Visual Roots with the Emerging Revolution in Computer Information Visualization.

The blurb?
West predicts that computer visualization technology will radically change the way we all work and think. For thousands of years, the technology of writing and reading has tended to promote the dominance of the left hemisphere of the brain, with its linear processing of words and numbers. Now the spread of graphical technologies permits a return to our visual roots with a new balance between the hemispheres and their respective ways of thinking--presenting new opportunities for problem solving and big-picture thinking.

Breezily academic, and perhaps even intriguing. Why shouldn't you take it seriously?

Because the book isn't illustrated. There's not one picture, graph, chart, or diagram in its 200-odd pages.

Come on.

rainbow on your parade

Gee whiz, isn't nature beautiful?

Listen to your gut. No, you're not hungry--beauty implies design. Think about it--the gorgeous arrangement of hues in a rainbow is proof positive that a rainbow is no accident. Each and every rainbow is designed, and your ability to appreciate that design is also designed.

Look at all the pretty colors! The rosy pinks, the soft blues, the lush oranges and reds and...


You're color blind.


one last reminder

With the most recent Carnival of the Godless, Skeptics' Circle, Carnival of Education, and Carnival of the Recipes now upon us, it's time for a reminder that smarter than I #4 will soon be here, hosted over at Science and Politics. Send the best posting you've read in the past two weeks to

coturnix1 AT aol DOT com


smarterthani AT hotmail DOT com

or, easier still, fill out this easy form.

Read up on past editions:

statement of purpose
#1 at decorabilia
#2 at l'esprit d'escalier
#3 at Pseudo-Polymath

May 14, 2005

shiny and new

Originality: still available.

holy panjandrums
the complexity of a loofah
broadcast on three planets
her prose isn't prosaic
divine justice as fairness
the usual sort of derring-do
pimply obvious
with the levity only a gravedigger can muster
wind shear fantasy
pusillanimous psychobabble
I'm nearly all ears
fish blinders
not on this block, mate
petroleum jelly futures
the poet laureate of the state of confusion
fingers jammed in the duplexer
who's rooting for God?

a little help

To the Google searcher looking for "Oliver Sacks Terri Schiavo," don't look on this website for any pithy comment. Rather, go here.

To the searcher looking for "Fahrenheit 451 naturalism," I'm not sure if this'll help, but Bradbury's sci-fi classic isn't really an example of literary naturalism, although I suppose it might have an oblique connection to metaphysical naturalism. Hope that's useful.

To Kerry's email address: don't have it. If you're looking to pressure Mr. I-won't-sign-a-Form-SF-180-until-I'm-good-and-ready, go elsewhere. I'm a devoted semi-fan, remember?

To "Jim Anderson blog," this certainly is the place. Welcome.

May 13, 2005

"Creativity takes courage." --Henri Matisse

This is cool. (Via this KOMO story about Brom Wikstrom.)

the rundown

Since I'm a kindly sort who volunteers my students for other class's projects, my first period sophomores slogged through a self-esteem survey this morning, brought to us by I.B. Psychology.

What's sad about these tests is that they're so easily gamed. I can make myself into Eeyore with a few well-chosen responses, or come across as Pippi Longstocking if it's a personality test for a sales job. (Not just "can." Have.)

Second period shared their Newsweek stories. The assignment: take four random pictures from Newsweek and incorporate them into a coherent narrative. The results: predictably rough, but often hilarious.

Two presenters kicked off a two-week binge of passage commentaries from Song of Solomon. (No, I don't teach a Bible study; we're reading Toni Morrison's version.) We had just finished "um speeches," an exercise stolen from my high school speech coach, Scott Rowland, as a warmup, so I noticed every single "um" "uh" "like" "kind of" and "sort of." It was painful.

Fifth period tackled sci-fi the hard way: writing their own short stories based on a news item from NewScientist. I won't know how plausible their attempts were until Monday.

Sixth period's Song of Solomon presentations went smoothly, almost too smoothly for the first day. First questioner: "That was great, really great. That was just awesome. So good I can't even think of a question." Presenter: "Was that a question?"

I have trained them well.

May 12, 2005

from the employee manual

Section 7. Emergency Procedures

Subsection 6. Seizure

If you witness what appears to be a seizure in a coworker or client, please follow these steps in order:

1. Call 911.
2. Pray.
3. Commence exorcism (see section 66-6 for full instructions).
4. Administer water, holy or otherwise.


[thanks to Hit and Run]

May 10, 2005

I'm sorry, but this is just stupid

From Jim Lampley:
At 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on Election Day, I checked the sportsbook odds in Las Vegas and via the offshore bookmakers to see the odds as of that moment on the Presidential election. John Kerry was a two-to-one favorite. You can look it up.

People who have lived in the sports world as I have, bettors in particular, have a feel for what I am about to say about this: these people are extremely scientific in their assessments. These people understand which information to trust and which indicators to consult in determining where to place a dividing line to influence bets, and they are not in the business of being completely wrong. Oddsmakers consulted exit polling and knew what it meant and acknowledged in their oddsmaking at that moment that John Kerry was winning the election.

And he most certainly was, at least if the votes had been fairly and legally counted. What happened instead was the biggest crime in the history of the nation, and the collective media silence which has followed is the greatest fourth-estate failure ever on our soil.
Doesn't Lampley know which horse won the Kentucky Derby? Yep. The 50-1 long shot.

Odds are odd like that. And they're as scientific as Scientology.

self-referential maxim violation

[picture deleted, thus joke lost]

In the spirit of The Comics Curmudgeon, I just have to ask: isn't a comic strip an essentially visual medium?

May 9, 2005

Befriending the Colon: Carter's Rule of Entitlement

So you want to write a snappy, clever, memorable title--just like Joe Carter? You're in luck, friend, because I can show you how. I'm practically a Carter expert, having culled through the last couple months' worth of titles to figure out how he does it. There's one simple rule: always use a colon.

Consider these examples.
  • Dawkin’s Apparent Absurdities: Richard Dawkins and the Hermeneutic of Atheism
  • Of Theocrats and Theophobes: Carter’s Law of Political Rhetoric
  • The Embryo Eaters: A Bioethical Thought Experiment
  • Insurance Regulation: Say’s Law and the Demand for Abortion
  • The One-Flesh Union: An Evangelical View of Sex and Marriage
  • Industrialized Sex: How Christians Can Restore True Intimacy
  • Chappe’s Progeny: In Praise of Linkers
  • Monkeyfishing, Miracles, and the Media: Why Do We Trust the Press?
  • Info-Techno Sabbath: Unplugging the God of Information Technology
  • Positively Illogical: The Absurdity of Naturalistic Ethics
  • Noses Pressed Against Mirrors: Recovering Wisdom in the Blogosphere
  • Experts in Stupidity: Conservatism and the Moral Intelligence of Society
  • Other People’s Navels: Bloggers on Blogging
  • Naturalism for Dummies: Contradictions, Causal Connections, and the Center for Naturalism
  • God’s Refrigerator: Can Christians Save the Visual Arts (Part II)
  • More Than Many Sparrows: The Limits of Empiricism
  • Truly Catholic: Reflections on the Death of John Paul II
  • Soul Time: Temporality and the Intermediate State

It's that simple. But there's more. Corrolaries include, but are not limited to...

  • Apparent Absurdities
  • Theocrats and Theophobes
  • Embryo Eaters
  • exnihilating
  • info-techno

the ______ of _______
  • The Hermeneutic of Atheism
  • the Moral Intelligence of Society
  • The Limits of Empiricism

Bonus Quiz: Real Carter Title or Clever Imitation?

a) Real Carter Title
b) Clever Imitation

1. Selling the Farm: Conservatism and the Ethics of Subsidies

2. Deadwood in the Pews: the Trouble with Church

3. The EGGs in the Mystic's Basket: Physicalism and the Global Consciousness Project

4. Kinkade's Cottage Fantasy: The Dispiriting Art of Thomas Kinkade

5. Here's MUD in Your Eye: A Christian View of Online Gaming

6. Taming Tom Sawyer: Ritalin as a Substitute for Character

7. Down the Up Staircase: Architecture as a Moral Concern

1. b
2. a
3. a
4. a
5. b
6. a
7. b

May 8, 2005

coming soon: Smarter than I #4

In about one week, Bora Zivkovic of Science and Politics will host smarter than I #4. It's easy to participate: just read, like you always do, and choose the best posting or two you can find--by someone else, of course. You can submit an entry three ways:

email smarterthani AT hotmail DOT com

email coturnix1 AT aol DOT com


fill out this simple form.

Read up on past editions:

statement of purpose
#1 at decorabilia
#2 at l'esprit d'escalier
#3 at Pseudo-Polymath

The deadline is Sunday, May 15. Go forth and discover more talent!

May 6, 2005

let the virus do the work

Viruses have a fascinating role in evolution, but that won't be the content of this post. Instead, I'm linking to articles brought to me by way of that weird email virus that's spamming me over fifty times a day. My methodology? Run a Google search for the email listed; see what comes up; post what's interesting.


Claudette Riley writes how homeschoolers want to participate in public-school activities. I'm a public-school teacher and a debate coach, and I'm all for it, as long as they're paying all the applicable fees and taxes.

Concerned citizens bring us AOL Watch. I tried AOL once, for free, and then discovered that you can score a free month just for canceling. Two months for the price of none!

Chris Davis has created Petals Around the Rose, a silly little game. If you can't solve it in fewer than six tries, you're a disgrace to your species.

Need Rolling Stones tablature? Admit it. You do.

Read something, anything, by Colbert King of the Washington Post. Hugh Hewitt will be happy.

Bug karma: nothing to do with reincarnation.

Or watch as a random email virus reunites long-lost twins:

May 5, 2005

open letter to Manzi Singata

Dear Other Son of God,

Thank you for sharing your pain with me. I am an "empath," which means I not only feel your pain in a metaphorical sense, but literally take on your pain. Your brain cancer hurts, but not in the places I expected. I have nearly torn off my elbow because of its constant jolts of electric torture.

I'm glad that you've chosen to trust me, a complete stranger, with your million dollar fortune. After all, I'm a blogger, and if you can't trust a blogger--well, you know the rest. I wish your lawyer would help you out, but that's why they write lawyer jokes, right?

I'll be certain to donate all the money you send me to the proper organizations, and I won't even keep the 15% commission. Okay, maybe I'll keep 5%; that would be fair.

All the best,

Jim Anderson

news flash

George Will has it right.

[ht: Chris C. Mooney]

May 2, 2005

smarter than I #3

... is up in fine fashion over at Pseudo-Polymath. Go read!

If you'd like to host a future "smarter than I," email me at smarterthani AT hotmail DOT com. That is, unless you're sportin' a virus.

Previous Episodes:

statement of purpose
#1 at decorabilia
#2 at l'esprit d'escalier

hack hack

I'm getting spammed past my limit with a weird new virus called "error-ema*l_info.z*p" that takes the form of an "E-Mail Delivery Status Notification." Anyone else out there seeing this?

May 1, 2005


My wife claims that she's watching Beauty and the Beast for a Mythic Literature assignment, but when she sings along with every song, I start to wonder.

join the dark side

The Seattle Times goes out of its way to make Christine Gregoire look like Emperor Palpatine.