the ‘painter of light’ sees flashing lights: thomas kinkade arrested for dui

Thomas Kinkade. Photo by Monterey County Sheriff's Department, Monday, June 14, 2010.

Thomas Kinkade. Photo by Monterey County Sheriff's Department, Monday, June 14, 2010.

thomas kinkade was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving. i wonder if his next series will be a bunch of blurry blue and red flashing lights?

Thomas Kinkade, the artist known for his light-filled paintings of cottages, churches and country gardens, spent a night in jail after being arrested on suspicion of drunken driving.

California Highway Patrol officials said Kinkade, 52, was pulled over outside Carmel and arrested just after 10 p.m. Friday. He was released Saturday morning, reports AP.

According to the Monterey Herald, Kinkade was pulled over because his 2006 Mercedes-Benz didn’t have a front license plate. After detecting alcohol, the CHP was called and an officer gave Kinkade a field sobriety test, during which he “displayed signs of impairment.” Kinkade was arrested, then taken to Natividad Medical Center in Salinas, Calif., where his blood was drawn. The report to determine Kinkade’s blood-alcohol content is pending.

don’t drink and drive! (especially if you want evangelicals to buy your paintings.)

they should arrest him just for wearing that shirt! (or for his paintings, take your pick.)

perhaps he has a history of this… (ht: m. suriano)

michael shermer on how and why we are wired to believe

Michael Shermer has given an excellent talk at TED offering an explanation as to why we believe. Shermer argues that belief is based upon our nature as a pattern-seeking animals. Our brains have evolved to seek out patterns and relationships between objects and events.

Specifically, Shermer argues that animals make two types of errors in cognition. A Type I error is a false positive, that is, when we believe a pattern is real when it is actually not. A Type I error is when we find a nonexistent pattern. A Type II error is a false negative, that is, when we don’t believe a pattern is real when it actually is. A Type II error is when we don’t recognize a real pattern.

Humans tend to make more Type I errors because they are less costly. His example is that of standing in the jungle and hearing a rustle in the grass. If we believe the rustle in the grass is something that is going to jump out and eat us, then we are cautious and move away. If it turns out that the rustle was just the wind, then there is really no cost to us except for the time we spent moving out of the way and being cautious.

However, if we make a Type II error and we don’t believe that the rustle in the grass will harm us, and it actually was something that can do us harm, we’re dead. Those individuals that gravitate towards the Type II errors tend to die out over time, while those that trend toward the Type I error survive to pass on their genes. Over time, this process results in a species of animals that are more likely to see patterns that are not there (Type I error) because it is selectively safer.

The cost of making a Type I error is less than making a Type II error. Or, to put it another way, it is safer to believe in something that doesn’t exist than it is to not believe in something that does.

Shermer argues that this is why so many people are still very religious, or at least believe in a god, despite our movement towards a scientific world that is regularly disproving many of the myths contained in accepted religious literature. He argues that ‘agenticity,” or the tendency to infuse patterns with meaning, intention, and agency, often from the top down with invisible agents or beings is responsible for the development of religion. This explains angels, demons, and gods, but also a belief in aliens and in government conspiracies.

This conclusion should also speak to scholars, who tend to look for patterns in texts or archaeological evidence that simply aren’t there.

I like Shermer’s explanation. It explains the single most prevalent, yet least-spoken reason why so many people are religious: they’d rather live a religious life and be wrong about hell’s existence than not live a religious live and be wrong about hell. The Type I error results in a life that believed in a superstition, and perhaps that loss of a little “fun.” The Type II error, however, results in eternal damnation.

That is to say, many people believe in a god and follow a religion just in case

This reasoning does not make for good people of faith and explains why so many people are looking to do the bare minimum “to be saved” instead of living a life of service to their fellow humans.

Of course, the next appropriate question is: what is driving us to do good for one another if there is no god? Attempts to explain this question are at the heart of the secular humanist movement and others like it.

Shermer makes some other very interesting comments about cognitive priming and other psychological phenomena. My personal favorite is when he states:

I want to believe and you do too. And in fact, I think my thesis here is that belief is the natural state of things. It is the default option. We just believe. We believe all sorts of things. Belief is natural; disbelief, skepticism, science is not natural. It’s more difficult. It’s uncomfortable to not believe things.

Regardless of your point of view, this is a fascinating lecture and is worth a listen.

how would bp handle a coffee spill?


watch and decide for yourself.
(HT: joel watts)

the purpose of worship

i find myself promoting some comments i recently made on worship to a blog post of its own. i feel that if one is going to criticize the practice of others and point out an injustice or a problem, then one ought to do something constructive as well, like offer a viable alternative. in this spirit, please allow me a few brief thoughts on the purpose of worship.


"Contemplation" by Jean Proulx Dibner. Bronze and Stone.

"Contemplation" by Jean Proulx Dibner. Bronze and Stone.

i have a fundamental difference of opinion with many others regarding the purpose of worship. this difference in the understanding of the purpose of worship is based upon a related difference in my understanding of what it means to live a life of faith. i seek enlightenment through knowledge and reason, allowing for the possibility of that which i cannot understand, but rejecting that which has been materially disproved, lamenting that which is ignorant, and attempting to shed light on darkness. a life of faith is not about a set of orthodox beliefs, but a set of adopted behaviors that rejects complacency and instead embraces a life dedicated to solving problems, be they intellectual or practical, individual or social.

a life of faith seeks to utilize one’s talents to help others. for me, a life of faith is to endow others with verifiable facts, teach them to reason, and encourage them to ask questions. a life of faith is one that understands the science of the physical universe, as well as the unquantifiable mysteries of love and beauty. a life of faith is neither about making money nor preserving money, but making sure that others have when they have need.

a life of faith should not revolve around proper doctrine and dogma, but service and compassion. it is not about being right; it is about admitting that we don’t know, and supplementing our ignorance with acts of kindness and service.

this understanding of a life of faith manifests itself in a particular view of worship. the goal of worship is not ecstasy, nor is it communion with the divine. in fact, the goal is not even about getting to heaven, as if proper behavior is somehow a means to an end, a capitalistic investment for a future return on my deposit. rather, the goal of a life of faith should be to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with god. it is to give the cup of cold water when i have one to give. it is to celebrate the joy, lament the sorrow, and laugh with (and at times at) that which is humorous.

for those who see worship as a pep rally, a concert, a money-making endeavor, or a charismatic communion with the divine, they have received their reward. rather, i view worship as an opportunity to say thank you. thank you for my life – good or bad – and for the opportunity to think, wonder, rationalize, philosophize, ponder, ask questions, discuss, learn, experience, and hopefully pass on both a balanced mindset of discovery and disposition of service to those around me.

worship is acknowledging and offering thanks for my very existence, the mere opportunity i’ve had to experience life itself.

if worship has any purpose at all, it is an opportunity to say thank you. it is not for us, but for god.

so here’s my problem with nonsensical charismatic / pentecostal worship

Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him. (Prov. 22:15)

unless, of course, the child’s parents and the church authorities are fools as well, in which case, they have no rod. (they’re welcome to borrow some of mine. there’s plenty.)

i don’t know whether to laugh directly at this kid because this is funny, or be angry with his parents and that church’s leaders for allowing this ridiculous nonsense. the child is obviously emulating what he sees on a sunday morning, which gives me even less comfort. i do not see the value in a style of preaching that is little more than a cheerleader screaming theological palaver in a metered cadence.

seriously, what is this? how is this in any way beneficial, worthwhile, or even spiritual? at least someone had the sense to subtitle it with equally ridiculous, phonetically correct subtitles. allowing children to do childish things in an otherwise sacred setting simply because some think it’s ‘cute’ is sheer stupidity. it reveals the foolish nature of the child’s parents and the church’s leaders. it is sheer and utter nonsense. the parents should be embarrassed and the church’s pastor should be canned.

then again, when church is little more than a pep rally, what can you expect?

i’m a fairly smart guy, but i fail to grasp the purpose and value of dancing like a nut in church. church is not jazzercise. seriously, join a gym. if you’re going to jump around like a jackrabbit that’s gotta pee, at least call it what it is: a show. seriously, get a band and some music and sell some tickets. because that’s what it is.

at least someone had the sense to dub some heavy metal over this nonsense. seriously, when church becomes the place to go for a weekly pick-me-up, both church and parishioner have failed. i suggest you leave that congregation, visit a starbucks to get your shot of espresso, and re-examine your life.

(HT:Jim West)

church processional fail

cf. 1 sam 5:3

the palin condom: as thin as her resume

Palin Condomok, i must admit, this cracked me up.

i’ll say no more, but i loved the picture.

(ht: stephanie p. via facebook)

demo fail: why i hate hate hate at&t

i love apple. i love the iphone. but i despise with all my heart at&t and the craptastic service they fail to provide.

i hate at&t so much, i’m considering ditching the iphone and getting a droid, not because of any problem with the iphone, but because i’m forced to use the disservice that is at&t.

but, today i learned that it’s not just me. ladies and gentlemen, even steve jobs feels my pain:

(and yes, i know this is a wi-fi issue, but it does not change the amount of at&t’s suckiness.)

Helen Thomas ‘gets the hell out of’ journalism

Helen Thomas89-year old press icon Helen Thomas has resigned and retired after being a fixture in the White House press room since the Eisenhower presidency.
Her resignation came as several politicians and journalists – both conservative and liberal – began to call for her to be fired. She was rebuked by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, who called her remarks “offensive and reprehensible.” She was dropped by her agency, she had an invitation to speak at a high school graduation rescinded, and the White House Correspondents Association also issued a rare statement, calling her comments “indefensible.”

In a May 27 interview with RabbiLive.com, Thomas stated:

Reporter: Any comments on Israel? We’re asking everybody today….

Thomas: Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine.

Reporter: Ooh. Any better comments on Israel?

Thomas: [Chuckle] Remember, these people are occupied. And it’s their land. It’s not German. It’s not Poland.

Reporter: So where should they go? What should they do?

Thomas: They can go home.

Reporter: Where’s their home?

Thomas: Poland. Germany.

Reporter: So, you’re saying Jews should go back to Poland and Germany.

Thomas: And America and everywhere else.

It seems like Helen Thomas has taken her own advice and gotten the hell out of journalism.

sbl media guide now available

SBL Media Guidethe society of biblical literature has recently published a media guide for scholars. the media guide is contains comments and suggestions about scholars and their interaction with the media. chronicle of higher education senior reporter jennifer howard discusses ‘how to talk to the media: tips for scholars.’ concerning television documentaries, university of north carolina, chapel hill archaeologist dr. jodi magness warns: ‘tv documentaries: proceed with caution.’ author and publishers’ weekly journalist marcia z. nelson offers, ‘ten commandments in
ten minutes: how to talk to the public via journalists.’ finally, ucla’s dr. robert r. cargill discusses ‘the camera friendly scholar: essentials for giving great tv interviews.’

check it out.

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