White to move. Forced mate in 517 moves (no joke!). Can you find it? 🙂

I’ve been hating on pop music for several years now. I think pop music is, nearly by definition, just a boring rehash of (a) pop music from yesterday or (b) a trite transliteration of earlier good music into bland pop conventions. A shockingly clear example of this is given by Webshite here. “How You Remind Me” (the #1 Billboard single of all 2001) plays in the left speaker, and “Someday” (a US Top Ten single from 2003) plays in the right speaker. You can hear it’s exactly the same song.

Webshite writes: “Nickelback… you bastards, you’re taking advantage of those tone deaf MTV brainwashed twats who are too thick to notice you’re releasing songs that are EXACTLY THE SAME as ones you recorded earlier.”

Funniest thing I’ve seen/heard in quite some time.

Christianity is a world religion just like Hinduism, and Islam, and Buddhism, and it’s more dangerous than those because it’s more subtle, and it’s so close to the truth that it leads people in a lie.

-Erwin McManus

I’ve decided to hold off on the next Journey into Truth post because I want to do something special with the series that will take a long time to prepare.

I just watched an episode of Morgan Spurlock‘s 30 days wherein an atheist must spend one month living with a Christian family. I feel so sorry for the atheist.

Finally, here’s a snippet of my favorite comment on Al Gore yet:

In fact, the planet “has” been mostly warming up, otherwise our race would not exist: human civilization emerged after the end of the Ice Age. [But what’s wrong with the warming? Gore] mentions that the oceans would rise by almost seven meters. With all due respect, the worst estimate from climatologists is about 7 cm… He calls for a cut in emission of carbon dioxide. But he does not mention the easy solution to the problem, that would also solve a lot of other problems, from Islamic terrorism to the crises with Iran and Venezuela: abandon oil in favor of nuclear power. What he asks us to do, instead, is basically go back to the stone age. Most of the planet would rather wait for the oceans to rise 7 cm.

Here is a very nice photo flipbook video featuring the unmistakable music of Alan Vega.

Multi-touch interfaces (a la the iPhone) have reinvented the DJ turntable.

Old-school anti-piracy PSA: Don’t Copy That Floppy!

Video of a full orchestral performance of perhaps the most revolutionary work of music from the 20th century, John Cage’s infamous 4’33” (1952).

10 Most Magnificent Trees in the World; even cooler than I was expecting.

Google is imitating Ted Talks with the thus-far excellent Google Tech Talks. Highlights: Kevin Kelly on the scientific method and Luis von Ahn on human computation.

I use Wikipedia every day, but it does have serious quality problems. Citizendium looks like a vast improvement, with editorial control and no anonymous editing. For examples of quality potential, see “approved” articles like Biology, Barbara McClintock, and Vertebral subluxation. See the news coverage.

From The Value of Philosophy by Bertrand Russell:

It cannot be maintained that philosophy has had any very great measure of success in its attempts to provide definite answers to its questions… It is true that this is partly accounted for by the fact that, as soon as definite knowledge concerning any subject becomes possible, this subject ceases to be called philosophy, and becomes a separate science. The whole study of the heavens, which now belongs to astronomy, was once included in philosophy; Newton’s great work was called ‘the mathematical principles of natural philosophy’. Similarly, the study of the human mind, which was a part of philosophy, has now been separated from philosophy and has become the science of psychology. Thus, to a great extent, the uncertainty of philosophy is more apparent than real: those questions which are already capable of definite answers are placed in the sciences, while those only to which, at present, no definite answer can be given, remain to form the residue which is called philosophy.

This is, however, only a part of the truth concerning the uncertainty of philosophy. There are many questions — and among them those that are of the profoundest interest to our spiritual life — which, so far as we can see, must remain insoluble to the human intellect unless its powers become of quite a different order from what they are now. Has the universe any unity of plan or purpose, or is it a fortuitous concourse of atoms? Is consciousness a permanent part of the universe, giving hope of indefinite growth in wisdom, or is it a transitory accident on a small planet on which life must ultimately become impossible? Are good and evil of importance to the universe or only to man? Such questions are asked by philosophy, and variously answered by various philosophers. But it would seem that, whether answers be otherwise discoverable or not, the answers suggested by philosophy are none of them demonstrably true.

I’m feeling silly today, so I’m going to list… my favorite gospels!

My favorite gospel is Luke‘s. First, because of it’s historicity. I’m fairly certain it actually was written by Luke the physician, companion of Paul. The author uses “we” when describing his journeys with Paul in the second half of the work (Acts) and shares much doctrinal phraseology with Paul’s letters. In addition, all extant 2nd century theologians agreed on Lucan authorship. It is also the easiest to date of all the gospels. Second, because of its content. It is Luke’s gospel which contains the beautiful parables, the socially radical Jesus, and the unusual attention paid to women.

My second favorite gospel is Matthew‘s. Though not as historically sound as Luke’s, this gospel does portray a socially radical Jesus and contains the best version of the momentous Sermon on the Mount.

My third favorite gospel is Mark‘s. The writing is poor and the story bare-bones, but Mark’s gospel is a breeze to read and also likable as the earliest extant gospel.

My least favorite canonical gospel is John‘s. It’s much later than the others and far less historically sound. But also, it shares little with the other three gospels and spends far too much time on theological diversions. It’s also a bit anti-Semitic and Gnostic. And, no parables or exorcisms!

Other gospels are less interesting, except in pieces. For example, the talking cross in the Gospel of Peter and the entertaining stories of a young, rascally Jesus in the Infancy Gospel of Thomas.

Fun, fun, silly willy!