Archive for December, 2006

It’s beginning to look a lot (less) like Christmas

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

because we’re in California! In some ways it does, although apparently the weather got “cold” for our benefit–it feels like a crisp autumn day and I smile when I hear Californians say it’s cold. Other than the unMichiganlike sunny cheeriness of the weather, however, it’s very Christmasy here. Merry Christmas!

Listen to me! I know the answers! Also, I am better than you (but that’s not saying much)!

Monday, December 11th, 2006

Just thought I would try to get with the program as far as 99% of all content posted on the internet goes.
I like to think, and always have thought, that most people are very smart, and the reason that this is not always apparent is that many people prefer using intellectual shortcuts to actually using their intelligence. Such shortcuts are easy, and they make you feel good, and some of the go as follows:
1. I am capable of making fun of X belief, therefore X belief is wrong, people who believe it are stupid, and I am awesome.
2. There is a secret conspiracy to cover up the truth. The proof that my belief is true is that there is no evidence for my belief, and everyone thinks my belief is ridiculous. That just goes to show how deep the conspiracy goes.
3. X group of people is the cause of all the problems in the world. I know this because everyone knows that all members of X group believe or do X thing. They all deserve to die. To say otherwise is (insert one or more of the following) elitist/unpatriotic/just goes to show you’re on the side of the group that causes all the problems in the world.
4. All the evidence appears to point to X, but I once heard on TV or from someone standing behind me in the grocery line that Y, therefore I know that Y is true.
5. If you are a good person, you believe X, because all good people believe X. Conversely, if you do not believe X, you are not a good person. The actual content of your beliefs is irrelevant.
6. My beliefs are rational and yours are irrational. I know this because I am aware of and am capable of evaluating all of the knowledge and experience contained by the universe–including yours! Any deviation from my beliefs, therefore, can and will be attributed to irrationality.
7. I have come up with a cute and derogatory label for your belief–let’s say a “meme” or an “agenda.” Therefore, your belief is false and mine is correct.
I’m not much given to impassioned pleas, but if you are reading this and think any of this sounds familiar and realize that your writings typically conform to any of the above patterns, please, PLEASE think again. The world will be a better place if you do. Just remember, all totalitarian, genocidal regimes conform to one or more of these, and the only difference between your blog and something we typically refer to as a “regime” is a little bit of power.
I do not have all of the answers. In my opinion, there are only two things that I am justified in claiming to know, and I only know them because people smarter than me told me. One of these comes from Socrates: “The only thing I know is that I know nothing”; the other from Paul of Tarsus, “The only thing I knew among you was Christ and Him crucified.” Anyone claiming to know more than this should remember: somebody much smarter than you knows a lot less.
As an added observation for those of you who have read this far: That one guy has pledged every year, for it seems like a couple of decades, to this Christmas–and he gives as his reason, and I quote, to “save [himself] from tears”–give his heart to someone special. Yet every year, it turns out badly. I’m beginning to entertain serious doubts about his judgement regarding romantic relationships.

in defense of it’s

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006

Just had to break blog silence to say this:
“It’s” used as a possessive gives me the shakes just as much it does any other grammar lover. But doesn’t it make sense? If it’s “Michele’s blog” and not “Micheles blog,” why is it “its cherished political beliefs” and not “it’s cherished political beliefs”?
I suspect that ultimately this goes back to Germanic roots, as so many truly important things do.
Back to lecture-writing! It turns out that ancient Roman history contains a number of phrases suitable for shouting aloud at random intervals, to boost one’s courage and strike fear into the hearts of those around you: Sol Invictus! Zenobia! Lex de imperio Vespasiani! Go ahead, try one!