Extreme Pumpkins And Other Halloween Oddities

Halloween is upon us once again.

Three random links for your viewing pleasure:

* Extreme Pumpkins shows us the pumpkins that deep‐down inside we’ve always wanted to carve…

* In a true story, a tough sailor saves his crew by killing a 600 pound shark in 1–1 combat.

* The Home Star Runner Halloween series:
   2000: The HomeStarLoween Party
   2001: The House That Gave Sucky Treats
   2002: A Pumpakin Carve‐nival
   2003: 3 Times Halloween Fun‐job!

Time on “The Religious Superiority Complex”

Time magazine has an interesting article on the idea that one’s religion is better than another’s. The author paints a more nuanced picture than you might guess based on the title.

As a devout believer, Boykin may also wonder why it is impermissible to say that the God you believe in is superior to the God you don’t believe in. I wonder this same thing as a nonbeliever: Doesn’t one religion’s gospel logically preclude the others’? (Except, of course, where they overlap with universal precepts, such as not murdering people, that even we nonbelievers can wrap our heads around.) Although Boykin’s version of Christianity seems less like monotheism than the star of a high school polytheism tournament, his basic point is that Christianity is right and Islam is wrong. Doesn’t the one imply the other? Pretending that my religion is no better than your religion may make for fewer religious wars, but it seems contrary to the very idea of religion. For this, you take a leap of faith?

Read The Religious Superiority Complex (check out Christianity Today’s weblog for related info).

Shaowei’s Talk on Science and Religion

Shaowei’s talk on the relationship between science and religion went really well last night.

Around 55 people showed up in the Okada Tea Room and listened intently as Shaowei laid out his thoughts for them.

Shaowei did a great job, and I saw several people engaged in very serious discussion afterwards (Shaowei got them thinking in a major way).


Shaowei’s talk was inspired by a paper he wrote for one of his classes and has put on his website: Is There Room For God in Science?

He even has a section of his website devoted to Chi Alpha. Aww…

Searching the Net More Efficiently

I just ran across a cool site: KwMap. In their own words KwMap.com is a complex keyword refining tool, aiming to help you discover new keywords. It is a fact that search engines can only help you in finding something if you know the right keywords.

The results look pretty neat. Here’s a search on Stanford and here’s one on Chi Alpha.

If you prefer a more timely search, here’s one on Iraq.

Textbooks Too Expensive?

The New York Times just ran an interesting article about how the same textbooks you’re using at Stanford sell for half as much overseas. As a result, some students have started ordering their textbooks from England (or even Singapore) and having them shipped here.

Many students, individually, have begun to compare the textbook prices posted on American sites like Amazon.com, with the lower prices for the same books on foreign sites like Amazon.co.uk.

The differences are often significant: “Lehninger Principles of Biochemistry, Third Edition,” for example, lists for $146.15 on the American Amazon site, but can be had for $63.48, plus $8.05 shipping, from the British one. And “Linear System Theory and Design, Third Edition” is $110 in the United States, but $41.76, or $49.81 with shipping, in Britain.

Read the whole story.

Interesting News Snippets

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything totally random, so prepare to be entertained and informed:

1) Hollywood Meets the Pews: In the middle of it all was Jonathan Bock, a unique Hollywood publicist who keeps underlining one big statistic for studio leaders — week after week roughly five times as many people go to church as attend movies. In the past three years, his Grace Hill Media operation has helped promote 30 mainstream movies in religious media, from small films such as “A Walk to Remember” to epics such as “The Lord of the Rings.”

2) Monkeys Control Robotic Arm With Brain Implants (no, really): At first, Nicolelis said, the monkey kept moving the joystick, not realizing that her own brain was now solely in charge of the arm’s movements. Then, he said, an amazing thing happened.

“We’re looking, and she stops moving her arm,” he said, “but the cursor keeps playing the game and the robot arm is moving around.”

The animal was controlling the robot with its thoughts.

“We couldn’t speak. It was dead silence,” Nicolelis said. “No one wanted to verbalize what was happening. And she continued to do that for almost an hour.”

3) Martial Arts Expert Kills Two Raiders: Chinese martial arts expert was in custody yesterday after turning the tables on four burglars armed with knives, killing two of them and seriously wounding a third. The 28‐year‐old man, known as “the doctor” for his practice of acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine, managed to seize one of the two knives carried by his assailants and saw off the entire group with the ferocity of his reaction. The moral of the story: you just never know whose house you’re breaking into…

Anyway, I found those fascinating. I hope you do, too.

Full Moon In The News

One of Stanford’s more unfortunate traditions, Full Moon on the Quad, made news lately. The San Jose Mercury News wrote an article Stanford Students Hospitalized After ‘Full Moon’ Party.

lead paragraph: Four Stanford students were hospitalized with alcohol poisoning and three others were arrested on alcohol‐related charges Thursday night during “Full Moon on the Quad” — a popular annual tradition in which seniors kiss consenting freshmen under the moonlight in what is billed as an alcohol‐free party, Stanford said today.

Full Moon may be billed as an alcohol‐free party, but that just means that many students get soused before showing up to tongue‐wrestle.

Also, I noticed the Mercury News didn’t mention the ever‐present nudity (the other moon on the quad that night)… sigh.

According the Stanford Daily, the university is growing concerned about Full Moon’s rowdiness: Full Moon’s Future Cloudy: I have serious reservations about this event happening again, said Assistant Dean and Director of Student Activities Nanci Howe. But it is too early to say what the future of Full Moon is.

By the way, while looking for other news stories on Full Moon I ran across Naranja Dorm’s gallery of Full Moon photos.