Monday, March 4, 2002  [!]

I'd like to thank The Academy... and my thesis advisor Reuters: Geeks meet glitz as technical Oscars awarded. Even though it was Charlize Theron handing out all those Oscars, those geek boyz award recipients weren't so fond of the Hollywood kiss.

In Oscar tradition, those receiving the awards thanked the Academy, but they also thanked thesis advisers, physics departments and sometimes the technology itself for their prizes.

30 years later... 7.4 billion and counting 7.4 billion miles, that is. Pioneer 10, launched 30 years ago, was contacted over the weekend by NASA. It's as far away as Pluto and back!
[Related sites: Pioneer 10 homepage; Voyager home page (Voyager 1 is spacecraft furthest away from earth, at 7.8 billion miles)]

40 days and 40 nights or... Hollywood, Lent and Abstinence. L.A. Times: For Real Singles, Chastity Is Hardly the Tough Part "Hollywood has it all wrong. Abstinence is easy because finding the right person isn't."

Culture Clash Cross Currents: Theology and the Clash of Civilizations [via dangerousmeta] The author, Jack Miles, talks of the Western/American inability to deal in the realm of theology.

After 1956, when the United States became the dominant power in the Middle East, it made the same mistake -- vastly overestimating Iranian nationalism as represented by the Shah and correspondingly underestimating Muslim religion as represented by Ayatollah Khomeini. It was as if the United States had to find someone like the Shah to deal with because, well, how could a self-respecting secretary of state possibly do business with an ayatollah? What would they discuss? Theology?

Yes, friends, theology. And secretaries of state may have to learn some theology if the current clash between Western and Muslim civilization is to yield to disengagement and peaceful coexistence, to say nothing of more fruitful kinds of relationship. If Osama bin Laden is a spiritual leader with military designs on the United States, the first, crucial insight should be that he and his movement must be dealt with as what they are. To suppose that we can achieve security by dealing with him as a common criminal and with the Muslim governments that harbor his movement as secular governments unconcerned with the religious dimension in his appeal is to fight this new war as if it were the last war.

This article offers a counterpoint to the Why the Muslims Misjudged Us article by Victor David Hansen that I linked to in late January. Hansen holds that Middle Easterners misunderstand the culture that makes the United States strong, and that there are no concepts, vocabulary or any other openings in their mindset to understand the basis of democracy and our idea of consentual government.

What I like about the two articles is that each one points out something essential to one culture that's missing in the other. The Miles article seems to say, So, if they don't get the democracy part, what is it that we don't get about them? The theology part. If you read the Hansen article a while back and thought, "We have this wonderful idea of democracy and you don't nyeah nyeah nyeah" well, now we all can sputter wordlessly at our culture's and government institutions' inability to talk theology. Nanny nanny billygoat.

It doesn't take much thought to see problems with theology-within-U.S. government. Who'd do it? Do you wanna pit the ACLU ("no, and I mean NO religious expression in a government-sponsored environment!") and the so-called religious right ("Let's get back the the proper roots of our country, which are Christian!"  . . . Okay, we'll overlook for a moment all the Deists—not Theists— who were the original framers of this Country and its Constitution), who'd no doubt want to shape the theological discussion The Only True and Right Way? If foreign policy had to involve theology, would you trust members of this administration to do so? (Thank God that John Ashcroft is not Secretary of State!!!)