Archives for category: delight

In a move that surprised no one, San Francisco’s examiner.com has named Roy Sablosky Sacramento Atheism Examiner. The division of attention between this blog and the new one will be carefully calibrated over the next several weeks.

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Speaking of aliens, District 9 (now available on DVD) outclasses Avatar in every way. Avatar‘s “aliens” have sophomorically humanoid bodies, with navels, dreadlocks, broad noses from Sierra Leone, big adorable eyes from manga, and perky, perfect little light-blue breasts. This is an insult to the viewer’s intelligence. If we ever do meet some real aliens from another star system, the chances are very low that we will even understand what we are seeing. I guarantee to you that we won’t find them sexually attractive. We won’t understand, at first, whether they have anything like sex. Chances are, they will be so different from us that we will not be certain that they are alive. (They may have the same doubts about us.) They could be here in this solar system right now, and escape our notice because they don’t look humanoid, or even eumetazoan. They could look like haystacks, or lightning, or sunspots — or something we literally cannot imagine.

That being said, District 9‘s aliens are at least kind of alien. They are not appealing. The body plan reminds one of vultures, insects and crayfish. They don’t have Kate Moss breasts. They do have something like lungs, and you can see them working and it is not pretty. They eat garbage. They fight over garbage, seemingly. They came in a spaceship, but they don’t know how to work it, apparently. They live in a government slum. They are repulsive and pathetic.

Then you get to know them. And they turn out, despite their grotesque anatomy, to be more appealing, on a humanitarian level, than the humans around them. You get to know them, and you remember things like “beauty is only skin deep” and “the only way to be good is to do good” and “the best things in life aren’t things”. District 9 is that rare, glittering gem: a movie that makes you think.

It’s not perfect. I would not call it a great film. But I rented it, and enjoyed it, and recommend it to you.

James Cameron made himself a billion dollars selling schlock. So now gets to spend $250 million to make the exact movie he wants, no limits, no compromise, embodying the ideas and values he developed very early in his career and has held fast to ever since. If you’re James Cameron, this is the movie you’ve always wanted to see and you still want to see, because, one is forced to suppose, your emotional and intellectual maturation came to a halt when you were twelve years old.

I believe that through music, human beings can create and enjoy transcendent experiences. And I believe that in writing Christmas music a composer corrodes and debases this priceless gift. Christmas music is a grotesque travesty of the transcendent service that music can sometimes provide. “Christmas music” is a contradiction in terms. Please, God, make it stop.

The idea that religion brings meaning into people’s lives is absurd. You can’t get meaning from any book. Neither can any person give it to you. In fact, there is only one place that this kind of meaning can come from. You put it there, you bring it out, you make it happen — if you choose. And the method, as many wise people have pointed out over the years, is to give it away. If you can give your care and your attention to someone or something real, that’s when meaning will enter your world. When you do something for people because you sincerely want them to be happy; when you make something beautiful just because beauty is a good; when you’re kissing your lover or child and meaning it, there is meaning in your life.

The organizers of the AAI Convention have released a revised schedule. I’ve been moved back to Sunday, October 4th. The upside is that I won’t be speaking at the same time as PZ Myers. The downside is that my talk starts at 8:30 AM, and I am not and have never been a morning person.

If you can’t get there, try the live feed —

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— but V. and I will be there in person. W00t!

My talk at the Atheist Alliance International conference in Burbank has been rescheduled. I’ll be speaking Friday, October 2nd at 5:00 PM. Here is an abstract.

Roy Sablosky: On the Profession of Religious Belief
As Wittgenstein observed, “one cannot mean a senseless series of words.” Religious propositions have no meaning, so they cannot be meant; and if they cannot be meant, they cannot be believed. Therefore, “I believe in God” (for example) is not an statement of belief. But then, what is it? If the person who says it is not meaning or believing, what is he doing? Here at last is a question about religion that can be answered! Such statements are not reports of (private) mental states, they are tokens of group affiliation. This has important implications for cultural debate and for public policy.

My theory is that the innovators are the ones that open the door to things, and then behind them there’s a huge crowd and they are trampled by the crowd behind them. And then you have to peel the innovators off the ground like in the movie, The Mask. Like a Colorform.

From a conversation with Beck.

This happened back in February but I’m just getting around to posting it. Sacramento’s Atheists and Other Freethinkers got together to celebrate the Freedom From Religion Foundation‘s stunning billboard in East Sacramento, just a mile or two from where I live. That’s me in the back. I’m the tallest because I’m standing on something tall. Click for a larger version. Photo by Mario Sandri.

FFRF billboard in East Sacramento