Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Cocktail Parties, Cephalopods, and Other Brain Warmers.
As promised, I will do Em (E-minor?) the common courtesy of responding to her tagging of me as one of the blogs which makes her think. Apparently, the rules for this meme are pretty simple: I write about those out there who tickle odd places in this noggin of mine, and they, in turn, follow suit by writing about those out there who make them think. It's a vicious circle with sharp, nasty, pointy teeth. Kind of like PacMan.
Now, fortunately, for me, a lot of these blogs I read are from writers who don't often come around this collection of semi-coherent lunacy I have here on AOL unless they're either considerably liquored up, or "slumming it" for whatever reason; so, I really don't see any of them taking part in this meme at all. But, I can take solace in the fact that they've got much better things to do like think about ways in which to make me think.
Anyway, to get on with things, I have to say that this first one tumbles in with a very strange set of coincidences. It's a blog I've been reading for quite some time, and when I awoke this morning, I hopped online to see that the author of this wonderful collection of incredibly heavy, sometimes-brain shredding, collection of observations was the subject of AOL's John Scalzi's latest Author Interview. So, it's patently clear that fate stuck its fickle finger into my morning cup of coffee and stirred a bit.
Jennifer Ouellette's blog Cocktail Party Physics is always one of my favorite reads. Sometimes it takes days for me to fully digest all the wonders which her brilliant writing conveys. She has an outstanding gift for making the most heady of concepts approachable to the everyday reader, and she makes it fun. And, I've always believed that the easiest way to teach or enlighten is to wipe away the stigma that science is a daunting intellectual pursuit best left to those with thick glasses, genius IQ's, and pocket protectors by yanking the trousers down on these subjects.
Next up: A small, smiling curmudgeon who passes his days as a Biology Professor and spends his free time waving his tentacles around wildly at anyone foolish enough to try to force their spiritual beliefs upon him. Yep. It's PZ Myers and his blog Pharyngula.
PZ isn't in this blogging game to win any friends from the intellectually fettered folks of the religious community; however, with his constant encouragement for free-thought and the importance he places upon skepticism and critical thinking, PZ is quickly becoming one of the most popular wayside stops on the path to personal enlightenment. He reminds us that religion is a wholly unnecessary piece of baggage which humanity doesn't need, and that waiting for some personal deity to make the world a better place is as much a waste of one's time as searching for a fart in a bag of rusty nails. I tend to agree that god is not so much the problem in the world today but religion is, and I think a world without such irrational theistic inconsistencies would be a considerably better place for all. Religion will be the downfall of America inevitably, and I believe free-thinkers and those who have evolved beyond the need for the irrational fears of religion are the only ones who can save this nation. Freedom should NEVER be contingent upon a person's chosen faith, and PZ Myers helps keep those with theocratic aims in check by reminding us that religion is, at its very core, an inherently bigoted system of beliefs which strives to curtail the rights of those who do not share those beliefs.
The next blog which spins the rusty gears of my imagination comes from the always engaging bon vivant David Byrne. I suppose this is one of my treasured, little secret reads. He doesn't update with any frequency, but when my feed collector highlights a new entry, I know I am about to embark on a deeply philosophical and fun journey into the life of a man who seems to notice the very tiny, but incredibly important bits of life.
My next favorite is a foody fave. It can be quite silly, insanely funny, or downright vicious, but one thing is for certain: it reminds us all that eating is one thing, but eating well is a whole 'nother kettle of fish.
And that blog is owned and operated by the always insightful Michael Ruhlman. And, sometimes, the insufferable bastard Tony Bourdain drops in to spew his vitriol upon the pages with the sort of raging glee which makes me realize that if I were sitting at a table anywhere near these two, I'd never be able to eat simply because I'd probably be laughing too damn hard to even breathe. And, in terms of human survival, eating is important, but breathing is a little more crucial.
Anyway, on those occasions where Ruhlman manages to separate himself from the paws of Bourdain, his insights into the world of food and his opinions about a well-fed and happy life are not only well-written, but instantly thought-provoking and wonderful to read.
I suppose, this blog is the written equivalent of one of my favorite things, and that is my annoying habit of walking into a restaurant and telling the chef to surprise me with whatever he or she wishes. Usually, I love what winds up on my table since I've appealed to the passion of the person preparing the food, and their heart and soul permeates whatever is on the plate in front of me. Ruhlman is the same way. His passion is damn good eating, and in his words is a desire to escape the convenient plastic processed crap that people eat not so much to enjoy, but to sustain. He reminds me that, so long as I'm able to breathe, I should always be happy with a good dinner, a great glass of wine and the company of good friends. Yes. It takes work, but it's worth it. It really is.
As for the Fifth, it's tough. There are so many blogs out there worth reading, and so many of those make me think, make me smile, make me laugh and make me feel. So, I'm going to say the whole damn lot of them fall into this place. All of you who have blogs and journals, the millions and millions of you who put your lives upon the pages of the blogosphere, make me think in one way or another. Sometimes you're inspiring, sometimes you're infuriating, but the simple fact is, you make me think, and I like that. So long as you all keep doing what you're doing, and so long as I've got a functional brain, I promise I will keep reading and joining you on this little trip of life.
So, don't stop...
(See? I can pull a Sopranos-esque ending. nyuk, nyuk, nyuk!)