Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Reburying Albert Camus: A Political Ploy by Sarkozy?


Given the PanthÉon's function as the final repose for France's greatest heroes, it's perhaps not surprising that efforts are now afoot to relocate the ashes of writer and philosopher Albert Camus to a site beneath the 18th century Paris building's cupola. But rather than earning plaudits from intellectuals and ordinary French people alike, the move to honor the man some call France's most influential postwar thinker is sparking controversy. Some pundits and historians say that Camus' legacy is being exploited for political gain, while others argue that glorification of the philosopher by the French government would make a mockery of Camus' deeply individualist convictions.

Rest at the website

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Born Today - Thomas Mann (1875 – 1955)

From The Magic Mountain

"Sarcastic? You mean malicious. Yes, I am a little malicious," Settembrini said. "My great worry is that I have been condemned to waste my malice on such miserable objects. I hope that you have nothing against malice, my good engineer. In my eyes it is the brightest sword that reason has against the powers of darkness and ugliness. Malice, sir, is the spirit of criticism, and criticism marks the origin of progress and enlightenment." And all of a sudden he began to speak about Petrarch, whom he called the "Father of Modernity."

Tomas Mann’s Autobiography at Nobelprize.org

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Scientific American Top 10 New Species



From the smallest sea horse to a naturally decaffeinated coffee tree, the International Institute for Species Exploration's annual top 10 list proves that Earth is still full of bizarre and fascinating plants and animals awaiting human discovery

Monday, May 11, 2009

Eagle Cam

Sometimes it’s a good idea to put things in perspective, I give you the “Eagle Cam”.  I’ve been watching these three cuties off and on since their birth.

http://www.hancockw ildlifechannel. org/staticpages/ index.php/ 2009030220002147 3

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Big Bear, Georgia O’Keeffe & Teachers Who Should Just Teach

I’ve spent the last few days up at Big Bear enjoying our amazing weather and spending some much needed one-on-one time with the SO.  I’m a city girl but getting away from the traffic, cell phones, email, TV and especially the Playstation is always a welcome change of pace.

Calling all fans of Georgia O’Keeffe – the Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA for the locals) has four amazing female artists on exhibit now through September 6th.  Georgia O’Keeffe, Agnes Pelton, Agnes Martin and Florence Miller Pierce all together in one place!  Rave reviews from everyone I’ve talked to that’s seen it so far.  I’ve got my tickets for next weekend and can’t wait.

I posted earlier about the teacher who made the anti-creation statements and was sued by a student here in Orange County.   In today’s Orange County Register the teacher gave an interview.   You can read the full article here.  Turns out he’s a smorgasbord catholic (his terminology) and doesn’t think that what he did/is still doing is wrong.  I disagree.   Demeaning someone does no good, not in a classroom, or at a lecture or in a debate (although I think we all agree Hitchens is quite fun to watch when he’s on a roll) or even in day-to-day conversations.  Want me to stop listening to you and get pissed off?  Talk to me like I’m stupid and treat me as if I’m beneath you.  Just my opinion but that’s what it sounds like he did to me (YMMV). 

I’ve got a ton of things to post, but not tonight.  Tomorrow it’s back to the rat race and 4:30 comes early…

Friday, April 24, 2009

WGBH Classical Music Online

I love classical music, in fact it’s my favorite type of music to listen to.  WGBH out of Boston has a great streaming classical music station.  They also have podcasts with live performances and interviews with musicians, conductors and composers.  Just passing this along for all the classical music lovers out there.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The philosopher has one duty and aim…

…to unlock the truth. Whether he does so with a wooden or a golden key is of no concern to me, and it is certainly preferable to unlock it with a wooden key than to lock it with a golden one.

- Pico

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Chivalry is NOT Dead

Today for the first time ever a young man gave up his seat on the bus for me.  I don’t know whether to be happy that chivalry is not dead or pissed off because he thinks I’m so old I can’t stand for 30 minutes to my stop!  (My ego is leaning on the chivalry side)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

LA Times Festival of Books


The LA Times Festival of Books is coming up April 25th and 26th.  Tickets are free and go “on sale” April 19th. 

Saturday I really want to see Gore Vidal but he’s at Ackerman Grand Ballroom and it conflicts with Religion: The God Question which is at Korn Convocation Hall – I guess I’ll figure out which one I’ll go to when I get there.  The panel for The God Question is William Lobdell (who I’ve discussed here and here) author of Loosing My Religion, Chris Hedges author of I Don’t Believe in Atheists and Rabbi David Wolpe author of several books including Why Faith Matters which he wrote with none other than the lying money grubbing preacher Rick Warren with Zach Karabell moderating (oh joy).

Sunday I will probably go see the Michael J. Fox interview.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Tales from the LA Subway – Martha the MPS and John the Sheriff


So I’ve decided that the LA subway has a lot to offer in the way of blog posts, so each week I’ll recount stories of things I’ve seen, people I’ve talked to (yes talk to, I know, no one talks on the subway), etc.  This probably won’t interest most people but maybe some of you will find it entertaining.

Martha the MPS

I first noticed Martha / Edward a couple of weeks ago on the Red Line.  I’ve seen her quite a few times, usually on Wednesdays.  Martha has Multiple Personality Syndrome (MPS), now you understand the two names above.  I know this because this week I decided to turn off my iPod and actually talk to her – taboo on most subways, ok, taboo in almost all public settings.  She is in her 50’s and lives alone, is on disability and has to take public transportation to see her doctor every week (I’m thinking therapist but we haven’t gotten that far yet). 

I wouldn’t have known she was an MPS if ‘Edward’  hadn’t made an appearance this week while we were talking.  On occasion the subway gets stuck.  I’m not sure why this occurs but it happens to me about once a month.  The first time it happened I did freak out a little.  It sat for about 5 minutes then started back up again.  This Wednesday we got stuck and Martha, I think, slightly ‘freaked out’.  The change in Martha wasn’t really significant.  I didn’t notice any facial changes but I did notice a change in her voice, it had a more male tone.  When the subway started to move she seemed to come back.

When she came back she seemed shaken, that isn’t really the right word but I’m not sure how to describe it, out of sorts maybe?  I asked her if she was ok and that’s when she told me that she had MPS.  I thought that took a lot of courage and I thanked her for sharing that with me.  Her stop was next and she got off and waved goodbye to me.

I’ve never met anyone with MPS before so I’ve been spending some time researching the disorder online.  From what I’ve found people usually develop MPS due to a traumatic event in childhood that causes their psyche to ‘split’ – abuse, molestation, loss of a parent, etc.  This can create one or more personalities that protect the primary personality from what is happening to them.  I’m trying to find a good book on this, there seem to be hundreds out there.  If anyone knows of one please post it in the comments for me.

I don’t know what happened to Martha, it would have been rude to ask, but maybe if we continue to talk she’ll tell me. 

John the Sheriff

The LA subway system is clean, beautiful and well, fairly new.  I remember the first time I went into its depths.  I must have looked like a subway ‘newbie’ because every sheriff in the terminal found their way to me.  “Do you know where you’re going?”  “Do you know what train you need?”  “Are you married?”

I’m not a newbie anymore but one sheriff still watches my back – John.  John became a sheriff because his older brother was killed in a drive-by shooting in Echo Park when he was 8.  John grew up in one of many bad locations in the greater LA area.  He learned to sleep with gunshots being fired around him, never being allowed to go out at night and always conscious of his surroundings.

  When things are quiet John rides with me from one station to the next.  We haven’t spent much time talking about him but I know that he is married, no kids and loves being and LA sheriff.   I actually do feel safer knowing he’s around.

Doing Da Vinci on Discovery Channel

Doing Da Vinci is a cool new show starting on April 15th on Discovery channel. 

Video highlights  here http://dsc.discovery.com/videos/doing-davinci-highlights/

Also starting next week new seasons of The Alaska Experiment and Deadliest Catch!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

My 2 Hours With Douglas Adams


While commuting this week I decided that my partner in rush-hour-traffic crime needed to be indoctrinated into the H2G2 fraternity so I decided to start with The Salmon of Doubt audio book.  For those that don’t know the Salmon of Doubt is Douglas’ final tome.  It contains several articles he’d written over the years and previously unpublished works culled from his many computers.  The audio book has commentary about him from Richard Dawkins, Stephen Fry and Simon Jones, who are also the narrators.

I’ve listened to it probably a dozen times and I still laugh and hear things I hadn’t heard before.  Yesterday morning however something very strange happened, I started to cry while it was on.  You see I met Douglas many, many years ago (almost 20) completely on accident.  I hadn’t read Hitchhiker’s and had no idea who Douglas Adams was.  I was in London with my boyfriend, who decided to dump me.  So there I was in a foreign country, I knew no one, had no money and was not an experienced traveler.  I was scared, crying, sitting on a street corner.  A man came up to me and said “Nothing could be that bad.”

He sat down next to me and asked if there was anything he could do.  I of course told him the whole sorry story, I was young and naive.  He told me to get up, dry my eyes and blow my nose.  He asked if I had my ticket home and I told him yes, but no way to get to the airport.  He hailed a cab, told the driver to take me to Heathrow and gave him some money.  I asked for his name and address so I could repay him.  He told me his name but said it wasn’t necessary to pay him back the money, just be a better judge of character with the next one.  It would still be a few more years until I read the Hitchhiker trilogy.  Once I discovered them I sent a thank you letter to his publisher for the kindness he showed me, I have no idea if he got it, but I like to think that he did.

I think I started crying because I just realized what the world lost when he died, not just Douglas the writer, the atheist, the computer programmer, but most of all, we lost Douglas the human.

If you saw someone  sitting on a street corner crying, would you stop and ask them what was wrong, or what you could do to help them?  Would you pay for their cab ride to the airport?  Would you take the time to just listen?

I decided today while riding home on the subway to do just that, more on that Friday.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Hey You, the Atheist With the Chip On Your Shoulder…

Just because I am also an atheist does not mean I will condone your bad behavior, have your back when you’re acting like a complete moron or apologize for not doing either of these things.

To the people at last nights debate that had to endure some of the unnecessary comments, huffs, snickering, etc from a group of atheists…..I’m not with them.

More on the debate later, both sides were interesting to listen to, but I’m still an atheist.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Tyson Foods Post / Apology

One of my friends emailed me and asked what was wrong when I wrote the post on Tyson Foods having a Chaplain on staff. I had to ask what that meant? She reminded me that I usually jump all over anything that smells of intolerance and my post was just that, completely intolerant. She is correct. So, I’ve removed it and for anyone who read it I’m apologizing.

I think between the commute and the hours I’m working I have very little patience left at the end of the day. I have friends that have lost their jobs, and might be losing their homes, and I think seeing a job posting for a chaplain at a company like Tyson just set me off. But I am leaving the part about William Craig looking like a child molester because its true!

Back to your regularly scheduled programming……

Friday, March 27, 2009

Not to suffer the lures and pangs of passion

Not to suffer the lures and pangs of passion or to be moved by its fervor and attraction, is not to have lived fully; without passion, life would be lacking something poignant.

- Paul Kurtz  Affirmations: Joyful and Creative Exuberance

“Hi my name is Devin…”

I heard a little voice say to me as I was leaving the Albertson’s near my house last night.  I looked down to see the cutest little boy with big brown eyes and dimples staring up at me.

“I’m selling discount cards would you like to buy one?  The money goes to help my school Lutheran Elementary.” 

Oops, Devin you had me until you said Lutheran Elementary.

“What is Lutheran Elementary?”  I asked.  “It’s where I go to school.”  he replied.  “And what do you learn there?”  I asked.  “We learn about God and Jesus and math, things like that.” 

Before I could ask the question what had  he been taught about god he was quickly whisked away by what I can only assume was his parent.  “Do you want to buy a card or not?” the man asked quite abruptly.

Of course my reply was Not.

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

I listen to a lot of books on tape, in addition to reading paper versions.  Most of them are about philosophy, atheism, secularism, science and history but every once and a while I like a good biography and Kitchen Confidential is fantastic.

I’m not what I would call a “foodie”.  I know who Gordon Ramsay and Padma are, the difference between a leek and an onion and what a sous-chef is but that is the extent of my culinary repartee.  I thought most of this book would be lost on me but after listening to it, some chapters more than once, I think Anthony and I would have quite a good time together, should we ever meet.

I had no idea he had such a colorful past, read into this he was a very bad boy and isn’t shy about discussing it.  He had a slew of horrid jobs with failing restaurants, some of which he helped to tank, battling alcohol and drugs and banging lots of women along the way.  

Anthony has led a very colorful and sometimes dangerous, life that he shares in great detail with amazing wit.

The audio book is read by the author and he does a wonderful job (unlike Stephen King who should never be allowed to read his own books out loud, or any book for that matter!)  I found myself even forgoing my hour nap on the train ride to LA every morning so that I could listen to it, it’s just that good.

I will NEVER EVER eat eggs Benedict at a restaurant again, or order fish on a Monday, or a lot of other things.  This book was a real joy to listen to and made me laugh a lot.  If you’re looking for something to listen to between the Portable Atheist and your favorite secular podcast I highly recommend this book.

Anthony Bourdain’s Personal Website

Anthony Bourdain Wikipedia

Authors@Google: Anthony Bourdain

Travel Channel Blog