The Journal of Applied Impossibility
(Begun June 6, 2021) The Backlog is thinner than ever -- Less than a year!
It's my sometimes M.O. to attempt drawing connections between two disparate ideas in a way that seems jarring at first blush, but which I hope ends up being illuminating. This is how thinking and learning in general feel to me, and while some may not wish to share in the feeling of being jarred, I think it's good to experience it from time to time at least. Today's first topic is social-justice language in theology.
I find myself writing about something current and "topical" and then sitting on it for months or years until no one cares except me, but I'm still grumpy about it (I started on this piece March 4th of 2021). I think that if more people did this, the social fabric would be in a better place. At any rate, there is a bruhaha about the most celebrated children's author.* This is my hot take (freshness not guaranteed by date of publication).
In my days as a grumpy professor, I made a list of things my students were to avoid saying. [LINK] I had my reasons. If I ever got a teaching job that paid the bills, I would have spent a little time each school year making a new version of the list. I might still do it and put it here -- like a curmudgeon’s word of the year sort of thing. About five years ago I heard a new one:
In one of his occasional moments of insight, Bill Maher noted a tension between the notion that one must obtain consent in order to touch someone's elbow or invite them for drinks, and the hookup culture (As a man who married before Tinder existed, to this day, I don't know which direction one swipes for which purpose, and I'm rather happy about that). This made me think about the nature of algorithms, and our current obsession with consent as a basis for morality.
...OR, How P.Z. Meyers Changed My Mind
In July 2008 (This is a controversy to which I am terribly late)*, P.Z. Myers posted to his blog the following photograph:
About this, he had the following to say:
I know some of you have proposed intricate plans for how to do horrible things to these crackers, but I repeat…it’s just a cracker. I wasn’t going to make any major investment of time, money, or effort in treating these dabs of unpleasantness as they deserve, because all they deserve is casual disposal. However, inspired by an old woodcut of Jews stabbing the host, I thought of a simple, quick thing to do: I pierced it with a rusty nail (I hope Jesus’s tetanus shots are up to date). And then I simply threw it in the trash, followed by the classic, decorative items of trash cans everywhere, old coffee grounds and a banana peel. My apologies to those who hoped for more, but the worst I can do is show my unconcerned contempt.
I recently read an article from Huffington Post about the “I could do that” response to so-called conceptual art.*
The opening paragraphs read:
"Ideas alone can be works of art," Sol LeWitt explained in his epic "Sentences on Conceptual Art," a pretty brilliant primer on the ins and outs of modern art making.
I'm about to be one of those people who gripes about contemporary art. The good news is that if anyone reads this, they will get to signal how well educated and refined of taste they are by telling me all the reasons I'm wrong.
...But before we do all of that, let me tell you about my friend. My friend hates cilantro. It's not her fault, and apparently it's reasonably common. I'm made to understand that it's genetic and has something to do with a receptor labeled OR6A2. I joke with her that it's a genetic defect, like being a ginger. One time I asked her whether, given the opportunity to change this perception she would choose to do so (of course I mean ceteris paribus. This isn't a monkey-paw choice where someone's dog dies or something). Of course she
I write about all sorts of things. This is one of the places where I do it.