Another Week Ends

It is both my privilege and pleasure to fill in for DZ this week! So […]

Bryan J. / 6.17.11

It is both my privilege and pleasure to fill in for DZ this week! So here’s your Another Week Ends post, Bryan J. style!

1) A follow up to DZ’s great post on The Argumentative Theory of Reasoning, found here, another NYT article titled “Reason Seen More as Weapon than Path to Truth” continues to expound upon this very Mockingbird theory of reason. What’s unique about this piece- its view of flawed arguments:

"The Argumentative Theory of Reason Explained"

What is revolutionary about argumentative theory is that it presumes that since reason has a different purpose — to win over an opposing group — flawed reasoning is an adaptation in itself, useful for bolstering debating skills.  Mr. Mercier, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, contends that attempts to rid people of biases have failed because reasoning does exactly what it is supposed to do: help win an argument.  “People have been trying to reform something that works perfectly well,” he said, “as if they had decided that hands were made for walking and that everybody should be taught that.”

2) Oh no? Facebook’s losing members? Apparently so! Or maybe not. Either way, this article at Slate offers some insight into the marketing/sociology/demographics of the internet giant worth knowing. Speaking of which, did you know Mockingbird is on Facebook? If you’re not rushing to delete your profile, hop on over and give us your thumbs up!

3) Speaking of Facebook haters, do you or someone you love angrily decry new technology? Are online banking, foursquare, Facebook, and the internet in general cause for giving up hope in the future and/or your eschatological nightmare? According to this WSJ article, the problem isn’t the technology- it’s you! Kudos to Daniel Wilson for helping us call a spade a spade in a winsome, funny way!

In movies, on television, and in books, robots are stalking the land, scanning for human victims. The technology we depend on is going awry. Our civilization is going up in flames.  As we consider the umpteenth round of cutting-edge cellphone upgrades, we feel a creeping unease settle over our shoulders. Dread drips from every new device that dances into our lives: newer, shinier, faster. This time in white.  At some point, you probably stopped to wonder where all the pay phones had gone. You’ve been heard to say, “May I speak to a human, please?” Perhaps you’ve even contemplated the deeper questions, like just what in the hell does Twitter do?  We think we’re afraid of the technology. But we’re really afraid of getting old.

4) Also in the news: the retooled, retweaked Spider Man Musical “Turn Off the Dark” premiered this week.  The Good News?  Reviews have changed from abismal to mediocre! The Bad News?  No more creativity inspired reviews by the train wreck that was the previous incarnation of the musical.  Still- feel free to insert your favorite salvation metaphor for the formerly floundering musical- be it “Born-Again,” “Humbled & Exalted,” or “Death & Resurrection”– though I guess it remains to be seen whether the musical will actually be commercial success…

5) Another NYT article, and a gospel gem at that!  “You Look Great…” and Other Lies, written by a cancer survivor, is a great primer for everybody on the unique dynamics of serious illness and hospitalized sickness. If nothing else, the article is full of transferable skills on how to make it through a world marked by suffering til Christ returns or calls us home!  Though the article itself can feel a little prescriptive at times, it’s better read like the Book of Proverbs- not as law, per se, more as generally helpful ways of seeing the gospel playing itself out in everyday life.  For example, from the “never say this” list:

1. WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP? Most patients I know grow to hate this ubiquitous, if heartfelt question because it puts the burden back on them. As Doug Ulman, the chief executive of Livestrong and a three-time cancer survivor, explained: “The patient is never going to tell you. They don’t want to feel vulnerable.” Instead, just do something for the patient. And the more mundane the better, because those are the tasks that add up. Want to be really helpful? Clean out my fridge, replace my light bulbs, unpot my dead plants, change my oil.

6) Finally, over at The Atlantic, Alan Siegel complements our current nostalgia kick here at Mockingird with a piece entitled “Get Over ‘Ferris Bueller,’ Everyone!” Siegel mercilessly calls out our cultural love of Bueller, questioning not only the class and race issues of the movie, but whether Bueller’s lifestyle leaves the viewer with any hope of meaning. The part comparing Bueller to other compelling John Hughes characters is also worth the read too:

Somehow, though, we think Ferris is a empathetic character. “I related so much to that movie,” gushes one teenager in Don’t You Forget About Me, “because Ferris was in with like, all the crowds.” I’m not sure I buy that. A lot of teenagers probably had trouble seeing themselves in Ferris. I don’t think he had any non-white friends. I don’t think he even knew any non-white kids. The only minorities I remember spotting while recently rewatching the movie were black dancers in the parade scene, the black school nurse, and two guys Crain mentions in his essay. “While Ferris, Cameron, and Ferris’s girlfriend aren’t looking, the Ferrari is driven off for a joyride by the somewhat Hispanic-looking garage attendant and his black coworker,” Crain writes, “ethnicity here serving as a marker of socioeconomic class, as so often is in movies.”

Admittedly, I used to think Ferris was a righteous dude. But I couldn’t relate to him. After all, he wasn’t bound by the laws of reality. My friend recently joked that in the real world, Sloane would’ve gotten pregnant, and Cameron Frye (Alan Ruck), Ferris’s neurotic best friend, would’ve chopped his meds into powder and divided it up three ways.

7) In case you haven’t heard, it ain’t easy…