Posted by: Ken Brown | July 25, 2009

Vacation Links

Sunset Image is mine, taken Thursday.

I’m leaving for a week vacation tomorrow (but don’t get any ideas, we’re not leaving the house unoccupied!). I probably will not have internet access and do not expect to be blogging, so here are some links to tide you over:

First, Pauli has a tongue-in-cheek list of the eight reasons he’s not a good blogger (HT: Disputations).

Mark Shea notes recent research suggesting that a fetus has already developed a memory by 30 weeks:

They found that 30-week-old fetuses had a “memory” of 10 minutes — if the fetuses received a second round of sound stimulation 10 minutes after the initial test, it took them a lot less time to become habituated to the noise during their second session, and they stopped responding after only a few stimuli, he said.

John Shuck links to another article on Peak Oil, at Forbes. Is this exaggerated? Who knows, but this is a much bigger deal than most of us are willing to admit:

You will never see cheap gasoline again. You will probably never see cheap energy again. Oil, natural gas and coal are set to peak and go into decline within the next decade, and no technology can change that….

Oil production is expected to go into terminal decline around 2012. The principal reason is that the largest and most productive fields are becoming depleted while new discoveries have been progressively smaller and of lesser quality. Discovery of new oil peaked over 40 years ago and has been declining ever since despite furious drilling and unprecedentedly high prices.

When it begins to decline, rate of crude production is projected to fall at 5%, or over four mbpd, per year–roughly equivalent to losing the entire production of Latin America or Europe every year. The decline rate will likely accelerate to over 10% per year by 2030.

Theofantastique has an interview with Titus Hjelm on the way vampires have changed in recent fiction (how does this relate to Twilight, which they do not discuss?):

Basically my thesis is that in recent vampire fiction (both film and books) the vampire has undergone a change from a religious figure into a scientifically defined villain. In other words, whereas the crucifix used to be the best weapon against Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee, the likes of Wesley Snipes and Kate Beckinsale are more concerned about biological weapons used against them. These are what I call the ‘old paradigm’ and ‘new paradigm’ celluloid vampires, respectively….

For example, the Hammer vampire was a mystical, malevolent creature that shied away from religious symbols and was killed by supernatural means. In contrast, the modern vampires are represented explicitly as an outcome of a gene mutation. Their main motivation is not to spread ‘evil’ in itself, but to survive, and for some, to rule humans. Therefore, it is not a question of satanic vampires vs. good Christians, but a question of racial supremacy. Finally, as I mentioned above, the new films often employ metafiction in reference to religious symbolism, saying that unlike popular culture teaches us, ‘crosses don’t do squat.’

Front Porch Republic asks If Cooking Slowly and Growing Organically Are In, Why are Rural Churches Out?:

Any self-respecting Christian should come down a few rungs on his ladder of self-esteem after reading Wendell Berry on the all-too-common view of organized churches toward farms, farmers, and rural communities. In his essay, “God and Country,” Berry complains rightly that American denominations treat rural congregations invariably as “a training ground for young ministers, and as a means of subsidizing their education.” This stems from a two-fold disrespect for rural people. First is the assumption that persons not yet eligible for ministry are qualified to shepherd country folk. The other assumption regards successful ministry as one that occurs in conditions of high modernity, such as big cities. In other words, churches encourage young ministers to leave rural parishes as soon as possible and find a “normal” congregation.

Finally, a bit closer to home, a prof at my own Trinity Western University is in The Chronicle of Higher Education today, much to Chris Heard’s dismay:

Robert P. Doede wants his students to get off Facebook and to skip the latest Harry Potter movie.

Mr. Doede, a philosophy professor at Trinity Western University in British Columbia, offers students extra credit if they don’t use social and traditional media while taking his course. That includes social-networking sites, television, movies, and video games, which they give up in exchange for an extra five percent on their overall grade.

What he found did not surprise him. In their diaries, which the students are required to keep in order to receive the credit, some who took his dare reported that their GPA’s had risen, and others said they had lost weight – probably because of “getting out for face-to-face socializing, and not mindless munching while transfixed the screen,” says Mr. Doede. The students’ overall anxiety levels diminished.

On that note, I’ll be taking the next week off. If my anxiety diminishes though, I suspect that will have more to do with six days on the beach than turning off Twitter. Ah well.

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