Full disclosure: as I have said elsewhere, I never got the “hang uv” being a Christian, and consider the multiple decades I spent beating my head against that particular brick wall as time merely pissed away. I still believe that. But that is only half the truth. The other half is that it is equally true that I could never get, have never gotten, the “hang uv” being an atheist. I am no more successful as a “creedal” atheist than I was as a “creedal” Christian. My admiration for, e.g., Sam Harris, the late Christopher Hitchens, Bill Maher, Richard Dawkins, Julia Sweeney, and Daniel Dennett is undiminished. Nothing I say in what follows should be interpreted as disagreeing with their contention that religious statements should be subject to the same critique as other statements. Religio
The recent report on the findings of climatic research into the causes and probable evolution of climate change – a more accurate term than “global warming” – prompted me to consider a possible answer to Enrico Fermi’s classic question “Where is everybody?” Multiple generations of science fiction writers have projected a future in which the Milky Way Galaxy fairly teems with life, rather like Times Square on New Year’s Eve or the tavern in the first Star Wars movie – so much so that the late Prof. Stephen Hawking has publicly counseled SETI investigators to – not literally STFU – but certainly to exercise due caution in broadcasting the existence of intelligent life on earth to every corner of the Galaxy. (Not that we have a choice by now: earth’s electromagnetic emissions by now com
A little learning is a dangerous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring :
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.
-- Alexander Pope
I cannot remember when I first fell in love with the English language, but subjectively, it seems like I could have fallen in love with it in utero. (My parents tell me I talked at an exceptionally young age, and both times I took the GRE, I blew the top of the scale off the language-skills section.) So it always irritates me to no end to look at the way people misuse and abuse the English language. (It also irritates me when people misuse foreign words that are imported into English, like the German Weltanschauung and Angst, but these are rants for another time.) Sometimes the frustration cro