I freely admit that this "Skeptic's Collection" column is shamelessly self-indulgent. I wrote it about a year ago this coming Christmas, and it was one of the 2 or 3 most fun columns I have ever written in the five-plus years I have been Beguine's Skeptic-In-Residence. So, as a Christmas present to myself, I am republishing it here. Enjoy and merry Christmas!
OK! OK! So I am publishing the "stollen" column again, with minor emendations. Why? Because it was fun to write and to read. That's all!
I have good news and I have bad news.
The good news is that the week preceding Christmas Eve, my wife and I took the ferry up to Victoria, BC, where we had high tea at the venerable Empress Hotel.&nbs...
One of the customary criticisms of what we may generically call “modern” art is that the bizarre distortions of the figures in the works – even music, e.g., the works of John Cage – render the art inaccessible to any but the most sophisticated tastes and temperaments. Such critics point to, e.g., Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” and Duchamp’s “Nude Descending a Staircase” as examples of modern art’s alienation from the public. (The late evangelical Christian writer Francis Schaeffer even went so far as to argue that “Nude” was actually evil and sinful, because it was a form of pornography in that it encouraged the viewer to search the image for a picture of a naked woman!) Compare Picasso and Duchamp, et al., with, e.g., the great landscape artists of the Hudson River School and
I had never thought much about physical disabilities until the autumn of 2012, when an airplane flight from Hell from Wichita, KS, to Denver – long horror story ... please don't ask! -- squeezed me into a last-row seat of a tiny Embraer jet aircraft for four hours, resulting in a severely compressed sciatic nerve that basically crippled me for several months. At first, the pain was so intense that I thought I would die, then later on, the pain was so intense I was afraid I would not. (My wife and I slept in our first-floor guest suite for some period of time.) Gradually, thanks mainly to the intervention of an excellent chiropractor, I incrementally, over a period of about four months, recovered to the point that, instead of walking half the length of my driveway, I can now walk perh