Wednesday, November 23, 2005


There's a strange debate that's been starting up on between the Uncredible Halq and Pooflingers Anonymous. Over AD vs CE. As in 1968 AD or 1968 CE.
Okay it's not a heated debate; more of a divergence of opinions. But it places the Halq on the same side as The Blue Site over the debate. And oddly it places me on the same side as a reality-dismissing paranoid on the issue.
Now, keep in mind, I studied history and see the BC/AD thing as a bit of an artifact, but one that I don't really see the need to get rid of. I've never had any use for BCE/CE. For a couple of reasons. More on that in a minute.
The Blue Sites point is the usual rant that any attempt to neutralize exclusive language or use some construction that is a bit more inclusive is an attack on Christianity. (apparently this is brought about as a reaction to this list at the Language Monitor) The post then sort of devolves into the usual What-About-Our-Religion and the 10-Commandments-is-the-source-of-it-all the FoundingFatherswereallgoodevangelicalChristianswhowantedustobeagoodChristiannation and nomorepoliticalcorrectness kind of a rant that more or less. The sort of thing that makes my eyes glaze over.
Pooflingers makes the point that "Neutrality when possible is a valuable commodity." and folks shouldn't get all afire over little things like this. CE is meant to be inclusive, to allow other to not have Christianity shoved at them. Another very good point made is that this insistence on overt and public acknowlegment of Christian heritage could be very easily seen as an attack on Jewish and other groups.
Makes you wonder when Bill O'Reilly is going to bang on about the war on Hanukkah, doesn't it?
Halq makes the point that re-naming AD to CE will open the door for Christians to demand renaming the days of the week to remove references to pagan gods.
I guess I side with Halq and (gulp) Blue State. My preference is to stick with BC/AD and the pagan gods.
First, these sorts of thing are artifacts of history and I have a lot of respect for history. So much of language and culture is debris that floats to the surface and to me that's fascinating stuff.
Second, I'm just more used to it.
Third, I don't know that I see how inclusive or neutral CE. Using AD does point out that our calendar is one of those artifacts of an earlier, more religious time. But CE (for Common Era) leaves me wondering why a time 2005 and 11/12 years ago just happens to be the time when there started an era we could all agree was common? What happened then that made us all in it together? Hmmm. Indeed, it's likely to be a slightly more passive-agressive attack than plain old AD because of that. (Sure we all had calendars, but now we have a starting point for a new era of good that we can all be brought in on. Jesus? Year 1? Hunh, look at that. Hadn't noticed. Doesn't mean anything, really)
So somehow I've ended up agreeing with Blue State on the AD thing.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Some interesting psych tests at the Beeb.

I recently got 15/20 when recognizing fake smiles from real. I think I had hoped for better since I feel like I'm relatively sensitive to body language am fairly intuitive.
You may find it interesting to try yourself.
I find all of this interesting since reading How the Mind Works by Stephen Pinker as well as several books on management and such.
The thing that's most interesting is the universality of it. All people recognize the same emotions the same way (despite what a lot of people will tell you)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Hunh, another odd result.

Just trying to give any visitors a bit of an idea about what they're dealing with.


You go out of your way to build bridges with people of different views and beliefs and have quite a few religious friends. You believe in the essential goodness of people , which means you’re always looking for common ground even if that entails compromises. You would defend Salman Rushdie’s right to criticise Islam but you’re sorry he attacked it so viciously, just as you feel uncomfortable with some of the more outspoken and unkind views of religion in the pages of this magazine.

You prefer the inclusive approach of writers like Zadie Smith or the radical Christian values of Edward Said. Don’t fall into the same trap as super–na├»ve Lib Dem MP Jenny Tonge who declared it was okay for clerics like Yusuf al–Qaradawi to justify their monstrous prejudices as a legitimate interpretation of the Koran: a perfect example of how the will to understand can mean the sacrifice of fundamental principles. Sometimes, you just have to hold out for what you know is right even if it hurts someone’s feelings.

What kind of humanist are you? Click here to find out.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Good Points about Reason

Reason needs work.
A great post over at Pharyngula points makes that clear near the end.
I've been watching the quality of public debate in the US decline since the Reagan years; I'm not old enough to remember Nixon. Some of the selections in the post highlight that everyone is trying to claim reason and right for themselves without realizing that with reason comes the acceptance that right has a chance of not being on your side.
I wonder sometimes what this portends for us. In some ways the tone of political debate is declining, but I thinks there's still more room for middleground here. I hope.