Brian’s Links 13 December 2010

Here’s some stuff for the paranoid people out there: Your cell phone might be listening to you, or tracking you with GPS… Serious ethical implications, not just invasion of privacy, but spying, for good or ill.

Environmentalism as moral – not practical – campaign.  I don’t really agree, nor do I think the author particularly knows what he is talking about (at one point it sounds as though he thinks the Catholic church has stopped believing in original sin), but the author does make some interesting points.

And a sort-of counterstory to the above: the Vatican goes green. The Vatican is actually the world’s greenest state.

And more religion and greenness: English Holy Thorn Tree chopped down.  Not very nice, religiously or environmentally. And as far as violence goes, it is a pointed piece of symbolic violence.  This tree has been chopped down before, however (by Oliver Cromwell), and regrown from cuttings, so hopefully it will come back.

Noah’s Ark!  I want one!  I think this theme park will discover that the Ark won’t actually work the way the Bible said it would.  Did I mention taxpayers are covering $37.5 million of the cost?  The Ark story need not be interpreted as literally as some people choose to.  And yet there is an interesting core in the story that is a near human universal: there are thousands of flood narratives in the world’s religions, and why, might we ask?  Because between 20,000 and 5,000 years ago the sea level rose approximately 300 feet as the Ice Age ended.  There’s your worldwide flood, with all the assorted regional catastrophes (Lake Missoula collapsing and the Black Sea flooding, for example) to give emphasis.   I’m not defending the theme park, rather I’m saying that it is illuminating how science can help make universal myths comprehensible. It contextualizes the narrative.  And a theme park on that – the end of the ice age, myths, and sea level rise – would be an amazing theme park, not to mention making global warming more intelligible.

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