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Archive for August, 2012|Monthly archive page

One of Many Problems with Religion

In Discussion on 2012/08/25 at 2:02 pm

Octopus uses empty shells to hide, Wikimedia Commons/Nick HobgoodThis isn’t a problem with all religions, mind. In fact, it’s only a problem with a handful. However, it’s a problem with the most popular, and the most violent — and, anthropologically speaking, the most recent. And this is the problem concept: that humans are special, are blessed, are chosen to be God’s favored children, are somehow above the animals and plants and everything else that lives, and have a God-given right of power over life and death with respect to them.

I’m not sure how all of that made it into the dominant narratives, because much of the scripture it’s based on stops well short of the worst of that in wording. But religions are made out of a huge body of traditions that, in those that do have scriptures, have very little support in those scriptures. Read the rest of this entry »

The Trouble with Science

In Discussion on 2012/08/13 at 9:42 am

R136 stellar nursery, Hubble Space Telescope, 2009We look up in the sky and see ten thousand points of light (give or take a few orders of magnitude depending on location and light pollution) and then, because knowing where the stars are in the sky helps us pinpoint where we are in the seasons despite the vagaries of the weather, we draw lines around them and connecting them and give the drawings names. And we make up stories about the drawings so that we can remember them, and remember that the positions of the stars are important, and, if we’re clever enough with the stories, why.

That’s “why the positions of the stars are important to us”, not any bigger sort of why, like “why are stars the things that are important”. Certainly not a “what”, like “what are stars”. Nor a “how”, as in “how do the positions of the stars drive the planting and harvest cycles”.

Well, that’s not true. The stories can actually address such things. It’s just that when they do, the risk of bullshit is dangerously high. Read the rest of this entry »

An excerpt from “Orange” – Following the Early Risers, part 1

In Fiction on 2012/08/01 at 9:55 am

honeybeeHere’s a sample of the hoodoo at work, illustrated in a fragment of my fiction.


©2012 Laszlo Xalieri, from an unpublished work. Used by permission.


At my uncle’s distillery, I adjust the coiled-copper tubing, being careful not to crimp it or crack it. The mash I have already boiled and allowed to cool, have already dumped in some of my uncle’s pet yeast–the eukaryatids that support his favorite vices–and have made sure that the community of little pillars have had plenty of grist to grind and plenty of time to work. The fire is banked but kept warm, and the early and eager spirits collect in waiting columns, ascension prevented. This is a family secret, these waiting columns. You need to catch the early risers.

The sabers I have lashed together, edge to edge, point to hilt. Read the rest of this entry »