November, 2005: 17 posts.
New things are afoot, dear readers. New things.
Some newness: There’s now an Apple Store about 20 minutes away. Huzzah!
Had some coffee this morning. Time to get to work. Rock on!
LaserTats.com: Custom Engraving on your Motorcycle
Leah and I launched Laser Tats at lasertats.com the other day.
What are Laser Tats? They’re laser etched drawings and words that can be put on virtually any surface, but primarily everything having to do with Motorcycles — “timer covers, derby covers, horn covers, gas caps, battery covers, switch housings, chrome oil tanks, mirrors, dash panels, lenses, etc., and leather seat covers and leather saddlebags”
Cool, eh? Contact them for information about what they can mark on your ride.
Science, Theology, and the Ontological Quest
That’s what I’m on, too.
I love their mission, which is sadly bound up in This flash movie.
I like it so much here it is, transcribed:
1. Integration of Science and Human Values
The double goal of the STOQ project is to contribute, through the Academic activities (teaching and research) of its partners:
- To the advancement of science, in order to stress its compatibility with the highest moral values, and in view of encouraging the new generations – particularly sensitive today to the humanistic implications of science – to embrace the scientific study, research and work.
- To the reinforcement of the connections between Science, Philosophy and Theology, in order to testify that the ultimate finality of science is humanity and its whole welfare, of which essential components are the intellectual, the ethical and the religious elevation of each human person.
2. Science-Religion Relationship
All the Partners of the STOQ Project share, within the common Christian faith, some basic ideas as to the role of Science in its relationship with Religion.
The main shared convictions are:
- That Science should serve the cause of progress and of humanity, in the whole sense of these two terms.
- That the human destiny in the universe is the most important quest, and to clarify this point is the ultimate goal not only of Religion, but also of Science, in their unending search for truth.
Humans are indeed part of the universe, and the universe receives its sense by the presence of intelligent agents in it, such as humans are, for a precise willing of God, the Creator.
3. Science, Truth, Freedom
The project is thus deeply embedded in this framework, recently and authoritatively brought newly to the attention of all mankind by two Encyclical Letters of the Pope John Paul II: Veritatis Splendor (Truth Splendour) and Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason) [Both are freely downloadable from the Vatican site]
The Veritatis splendor affirms that the depths of the human heart «there always remains yearning for absolute truth and a thirst to attain full knowledge of it. This is eloquently proved by man’s tireless search for knowledge in all fields. It is proved even more by his search for the meaning of life».
For that reason, the Catholic Church stresses that ethics is the ultimate dimension of education. In fact, the Church knows  «that is precisely on the path of the moral life that the way of salvation is open to all.»
The Veritatis Splendor affirms also the dependence of freedom on truth. Hence, «Reason and free will are linked with all the bodily and sense faculties. The person, including the body, is completely entrusted to himself, and it is the unity of body and soul that the person is subject to his own moral acts.» 
The other encyclical letter, Fides et Ratio , stresses from the beginning that «the fundamental questions which pervade human life [are]: Who am I? Where have I come from and where am I going? Why is there evil? What is there after this life?».
This means that, »Reason and faith cannot be separated without diminishing the capacity of men and women to know themselves, the world and God in an appropriate way.« 
Thereafter, the encyclical letters points out in  some basic rules that should be observed:
a. The first of these rules is that reason must realize that human knowledge is a journey which allows no rest.
b. The second rule stems from the awareness that such a path is not for the proud who think that everything is the fruit of personal conquest.
c. The third rule is grounded in the "fear of God" whose transcendent sovereignty and provident love in the governance of the world reason must recognize.
The importance of science is stressed in  as follows «All human beings desire to know and truth is the proper object of this desire. Everyday life shows how concerned each of us is to discover for ourselves, beyond mere opinions, how things really are. Within visible creation, man is the only creature who not only is capable of knowing but who knows he knows, and is therefore interested in the real truth of what he perceives. […] It is rightly claimed that persons have reached adulthood when they can distinguish independently between truth and falsehood, making up their own minds about the objective reality of things. This is what has driven so many enquiries, especially in the scientific field, which in recent centuries have produced important results, leading to genuine progress for all humanity«.
4. Morality and Scientific Precision
The morality of the scientific research both in natural sciences and the humanistic disciplines implies before all the use of a rigorous method in both fields. Only at this prices the interdisciplinary dialogue among them can produce effective and durable results.
In other terms, a fruitful dialogue among scientists, philosophers, and theologians for the common goal of the whole humanity welfare, implies a strong effort of clarification of the different ontologies in which they operate, as well as *a rigorous definition of the relationships among such ontologies.
This essential statement summarizes the methodology we follow in our Project, as it is exemplified in the title of our Project and its logo.
See also: stoqnet.org; Veritatis Splendor Encyclical Letter; Fides et Ratio Encyclical Letter
Why am I transcribing this? because it’s in the news:
A Vatican cardinal said Thursday the faithful should listen to what secular modern science has to offer, warning that religion risks turning into “fundamentalism” if it ignores scientific reason.
Cardinal Paul Poupard, who heads the Pontifical Council for Culture, made the comments at a news conference on a Vatican project to help end the “mutual prejudice” between religion and science that has long bedeviled the Roman Catholic Church and is part of the evolution debate in the United States.
The Vatican project was inspired by Pope John Paul II’s 1992 declaration that the church’s 17th-century denunciation of Galileo was an error resulting from “tragic mutual incomprehension.” Galileo was condemned for supporting Nicolaus Copernicus’ discovery that the Earth revolved around the sun; church teaching at the time placed Earth at the center of the universe.
“The permanent lesson that the Galileo case represents pushes us to keep alive the dialogue between the various disciplines, and in particular between theology and the natural sciences, if we want to prevent similar episodes from repeating themselves in the future,” Poupard said.
But he said science, too, should listen to religion.
“We know where scientific reason can end up by itself: the atomic bomb and the possibility of cloning human beings are fruit of a reason that wants to free itself from every ethical or religious link,” he said.
“But we also know the dangers of a religion that severs its links with reason and becomes prey to fundamentalism,” he said.
“The faithful have the obligation to listen to that which secular modern science has to offer, just as we ask that knowledge of the faith be taken in consideration as an expert voice in humanity.”
Poupard and others at the news conference were asked about the religion-science debate raging in the United States over evolution and “intelligent design.”
Intelligent design’s supporters argue that natural selection, an element of evolutionary theory, cannot fully explain the origin of life or the emergence of highly complex life forms.
Monsignor Gianfranco Basti, director of the Vatican project STOQ, or Science, Theology and Ontological Quest, reaffirmed John Paul’s 1996 statement that evolution was “more than just a hypothesis.”
“A hypothesis asks whether something is true or false,” he said. “(Evolution) is more than a hypothesis because there is proof.”
He was asked about comments made in July by Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, who dismissed in a New York Times article the 1996 statement by John Paul as “rather vague and unimportant” and seemed to back intelligent design.
Basti concurred that John Paul’s 1996 letter “is not a very clear expression from a definition point of view,” but he said evolution was assuming ever more authority as scientific proof develops.
Poupard, for his part, stressed that what was important was that “the universe wasn’t made by itself, but has a creator.” But he added, “It’s important for the faithful to know how science views things to understand better.”
The Vatican project STOQ has organized academic courses and conferences on the relationship between science and religion and is hosting its first international conference on “the infinity in science, philosophy and theology,” next week.
“Music is the best.”
The following is an email about music I sent to my good pal Erin last week or so. We were contemplating the role of music now, in the past, “top artists” list, and more.
When I showed this to Leah, she said she missed me writing this way.
It’s been edited just a little to make it a bit more sensible and palatable to a public audience:
I have known you since I was 18 years old and I hope I know you till I’m 81 (at least).
That’s apropos of nothing.
Funny we’re talking about music. I find myself connecting with my kids (yo! I have kids and actually feel paternal towards them!) through music. There’s something really amazing about playing They Might Be Giants to the boys and having them respond so positively. Something bout being able to have Dev bring up some artist, or some style, and I can immediately iTunes up something from my collections and he’ll go “how’d you do that so fast ?!?” … all incredulous.
The other day on a drive to Santa Barbara I played tapes from a million years ago. One of the mix tapes you made (for you, and a copy for me): Coffee House Ministry. The song Valley Vista was having all kinds of new meanings for me.
I’m not really answering your question. But I’m feeling philosophical for some reason. I’m probably embracing in a new way all these changes I’ve taken on. I enjoy them. They scare the sh*t out of me, but I really love them, and myself, and my family. And if I haven’t mentioned it, I love you E. I think about you, and you’ve had a big influence on me. I think besides my uncle, you’re the first person I met who made me really think it was cool to be way into music, to care about what matters. It’s something about living an aesthetic life. Something about looking for things that move you.
Right now Leah’s (and I suppose my) niece is staying with us. She’s 19 and nearly 20 and plays piano and guitar beautifully. she plays some standards or Fiona Apple or Joan Osbourne’s “What If God Was One Of Us” and it’s so moving. It’s a view and experience of music I never thought I’d have. Devon plays alto sax and piano and more. Tony, all of 11, plays tenor sax in the middle school band and digs it. Alex loves to sing along to bad R&B on the radio. Music has so changed for me. Last Christmas Leah’s family went to a hall (a Mormon church hall as it happens) and sang Christmas carols. And they/we sounded pretty good. Like I said, a view of music I never considered.
This is the kind of thing that I understand when I read Zappa quotes about how important music is… about how live music is so wonderful. It’s what I love about Stew, a music artist who I actually have met in person, who I think is a genius, and knows me well enough to ask me to make a blog and a powerpoint template for him. It’s demystified the “star” aspect of musical fandom, but it’s reinforced my admiration for those with talent, and for the ability of sound to move me.
The other night I saw an old Moz video. _Sing your life_. I played that song for Leah a long time ago – put it on a mix CD for her. She loves it. It says it all man. It makes me feel like crying. I’m pretty sure the first time I heard that song it was on a Mix tape that you sent me when I had moved away.
_”Make no mistake my friend your pointless life will end
So sing your life”_
I mean, seriously. That is what music is for me now. It’s some kind of affirmation. Not that I only like positive “up with people” stuff. I love dark Steely Dan stuff. The resonances of a song about a breakup, say “Black Cow” —
“I can’t cry anymore
While you run around
Just when it
Seems so clear
Drink your big black cow
And get out of here”
I mean, dang, I know what a breakup is now. I mean I _really_ do. And the music filters through that, amplifying it.
I suppose this is why my Mom loves Sinatra – she’s picking up on some kind of complexity of a singer singing from some place of life experience. A richness of performance comes from the depth of emotion running behind it.
To your question about keeping up with music today… I have no idea how to keep up with new music. I don’t and can’t. I mean, I could, but I don’t. I hear things on the radio and they sometimes interest me, but it’s really the exception.
The only band I have a strong following for now is Stew and The Negro Problem. I get everything I can of them. Everything else seems to be secondary. I listen to my existing stuff mostly.
And as for halls of fame, or most “whatever” lists, I think I just don’t buy it. Art is too important to be categorized. For some people, Rush is like this huge band for them, it’s not for me, tho maybe someday it will be. I nevery thought I’d be a completist Steely Dan fan, but I am now. I’m most interested in bands which have some kind of unique longevity, complex musicality, and great lyrics. Zappa qualifies, but so do TMBG and Steely Dan, and Randy Newman too. Many
others qualify, Moz, Prince, Ben Folds.
I still get excited about a good record store though. Amoeba gets me off. But that’s a special treat which does not happen often. Random trips to Tower don’t happen for me much.
Hmm. Now that was a rant, EW.
Fun to put this stuff on paper, as it were.
“Information is not knowledge.
Knowledge is not wisdom.
Wisdom is not truth.
Truth is not beauty.
Beauty is not love.
Love is not music.
Music is THE BEST.”
– Frank Zappa
Phrase of the day; Yesterday
“Movies about golf.”
Yesterday was putter day. On the agenda: sent some bills off in the mail, deposited a check at the bank, visited our terrible local comic-book shop and bought nothing, bought a UML book and Wired Magazine at Borders, gassed up the truck and cleaned out the cab, bought a cheap piece of whiteboard at Home Depot, bought some black graphic tape for whiteboards at Office Depot, got some Mountain Dew at Ralph’s, did some folding of laundry, cleaned the kitchen, put out the trash, watched I *heart* Huckabees, did some freelance work, put out the trashcans, and that’s pretty much it.
Bursty Halloween Traffic on artlung.com
I got a spike of traffic as a result of coming up high for some Halloween search terms, notably “pumpkin designs” and “halloween pumpkin designs”
But with the end of the spooky pumpkin season, traffic abates.
As Tom Bickle would say, c’est la vie.
Leah has great photos of the Feist Set at Amoeba Records in Hollywood yesterday evening.
They’re not really my favorite, but they are doing some interesting things with their music. And they are undeniably great live, even for a 30 minute in-store appearance.
Quote of the Day
“Freedom is as freedom does.”
New York Doll
Tonight, Leah, Alison and I went to see the movie New York Doll in Pasadena.
This was an absolutely moving film for me, I started crying about half-way through, and pretty much did not stop crying till the end. Leah tells me that it’s pretty much how I am when I go to (Catholic) Church. So the film was some form of religious exultation and spiritual meditation for me.
The film is about a member of the New York Dolls, Arthur “Killer” Kane, who was a drinker, went to hell and back, and in 1989 converted to Mormonism after calling for a Book of Mormon from an ad in TV Guide.
Fifteen years later Morrissey is part of many forces allied to produce a Dolls reunion. The reunion comes off, it kicks butt. Arthur returns home to L.A., returns to his work in the Geneology Library near the Los Angeles Mormon temple, and is dead less than a month later. His life’s obsession was complete, the reunion he had dreaded and pined for for decades came true, and he died soon after.
Today I worked to improve the Arthur Kane wikipedia page, because it needed some work. It still needs work, but at least it includes links to the movie site and the IMDB page for the film.
If you get a chance to see this film, see it.
I can’t guarantee that you will have an experience like mine though. The film tickles many of my buttons. Redemption, obsession, music, fandom, punk rock, Morrissey, Mormonism, hating Jethro Tull, rock history, music trivia, anonymous support groups, religious conversion and the importance of family, the transient nature of life, hopes, and dreams.
I laughed, I cried.
What else do you want from a movie?
Where’s Gary? Stew/Spongebob/Heidi
Latest email blast from Stew and Heidi:
tune in tonight and hear “gary come home” the most sensitive song Stew has ever written about a missing snail.
SpongeBob’s most beloved mollusk has disappeared!
“SpongeBob SquarePants: Where’s Gary?” premiering 11/11 @ 8 PM/7c! on NICK
(we think that’s 5pm PACIFIC TIME but make sure).
(previously mentioned in July)
Loretta sent a letter from Bagdad today. (by Stew)
New transcription: Bagdad Cafe:
Rage against coffee machines, go ahead
I’ll take that sweet black tea
And honey bread
Cause you know,
Sadness is so ****ing common
It’s not worth a song
So let’s sing of happy happy happy things
Happy things the whole night long
See the video at stewfilm.com.
Still eagerly anticipating a recording of Black Men Ski, which I have heard maybe three times now — the first time way back in 2004 at a show Leah and I attended in L.A. which we came to via Amtrak.
One line I remember from the song is:
“Black men order sushi with a stern Yakuza’s flair”
Too Late For You.
Exchange of the day…
*Me: (reading net news)* Christina Aguilera’s getting married this weekend.
*Leah:* Oh, it’s too late for you.
*Me:* That’s pretty funny Leah.
F.Z.: Quotes of the Day
“Fact of the matter is, there is no hip world, there is no straight world. There’s a world, you see, which has people in it who believe in a variety of different things. Everybody believes in something and everybody, by virtue of the fact that they believe in something, use that something to support their own existence.”
“The creation and destruction of harmonic and ‘statistical’ tensions is essential to the maintenance of compositional drama. Any composition (or improvisation) which remains consonant and ‘regular’ throughout is, for me, equivalent to watching a movie with only ‘good guys‘ in it, or eating cottage cheese.”
Happy Thanksgiving y’all.
I have much to be thankful for this year.
Have a great and wonderful day,
Lyrics of the Day
Any major dude with half a heart surely will tell you my friend
Any minor world that breaks apart falls together again
When the demon is at your door
In the morning it won’t be there no more
Any major dude will tell you
Any major dude will tell you
Any Major Dude Will Tell You / Steely Dan