secret to long lasting institutions

The vatican is pretty light on it’s foot when it comes to dancing with the winning social trends in the long run. Small wonder that it has survived as an institution intact for so long, 16 centuries in fact. Take that you current day multinational behemoths like Walmart, GE, and the likes. Even institutions like the the venerable constitution of the United States pale in historical comparison. Another close one, albeit with many changes, is the Magna Carta, with eight centuries under it’s belt.

There’s some secret to the papal legacy that needs spreading around. Maybe it’ll make for someone’s PhD thesis, or even another book or two.

here’s the blurb

BELIEVING that God created the universe in six days is a form of superstitious paganism, the Vatican astronomer Guy Consolmagno claimed yesterday.

Brother Consolmagno, who works in a Vatican observatory in Arizona and as curator of the Vatican meteorite collection in Italy, said a “destructive myth” had developed in modern society that religion and science were competing ideologies.

more at


root of all evil

Richard Dawkins created, what I believe to be, a brilliant documentary about religion and it’s effect on humanity. Channel 4 (is that based in the U.K. ?) aired the documentary and has several pages on it’s web site about the two part documentary. Some of the people you hear on the documentary make you cringe. I almost withdrew with disbelief, not because I heard about religious fundamentalism for the first time, but because of one more affirmation of something that I believe is already happening in the U.S. and elsewhere. It’s truly absurd that we keep pointing at the middle-east as a prime example of religious zealotry, completely ignoring our own backyards and what’s brewing there.

Each part is about 45 minutes, suitable for airing on the one-hour time slots on American TV. Surprising thing though, is that I haven’t heard of or read about it being aired anywhere on American TV. Maybe my googling for it is not enough research.

If you want to watch it, the two video files are available as bittorrent downloads. They’re avi files encoded in divx, so you’ll need a divx capable media player.
part 1 on mininova
part 2 on mininova

If you consider yourself a rational animal and like rational pursuits, then you’ll like this documentary.

Richard Dawkins is the same person that authored The Selfish Gene.

Thanks to Lispmeister for pointing the documentary out.

What I would like to see is Richard talk with folks from the Baha’i Blog. They seem religious and rational enough to warrant a debate.

PS: If you know me personally and/or would like a copy of the video, let me know, I’ll burn you a copy. I’m probably transgressing all known legal boundaries on video distribution. But hey, it’s a worthy cause. If you know I am doing so, let me know and I’ll cease and desist.

Norwegian wood

The book, not the song.
I just finished reading it. The english translation was superb. I can say this even though I cannot compare it to the original japanese version. It carries the careful unravelling of the protagonist’s emotions and feelings and in the process the complete picture of his personality the same way Murakami might have wanted it done. The story shows an uncanny resonance with the ripples of my own life, though, if I were to compare both fact by fact, I would find nothing in common. That’s storytelling for you.

The book made me think about suicide in the 1960s. Specifically, the suicide rate in Japan in the post-war era. There seems to have been a tremendous effort to shift social habits, culture and the likes at a national level in Japan after the war. Now, it seems, they have succeeded. But at what cost? There must have been huge perturbations during the 60s and the 70s in Japan, a total shift of the cultural consciousness of the Japanese.

I wonder if there’s research, or books on the subject, or have I pulled something out of thin air?

The celestine prophecy

The writer has interesting things to say. The only gripe I had about the book was
the fact that it assumed readership for people from a Christian background. Either the author was trying to reach that class of people or he simply didn’t know about other religions as well as he did about Christianity. Although, I am skeptical about the idea of things happening for a reason, I’m willing to look beyond my seemingly narrow, logical point of view. He says a lot of things in the book. Nine major paradigm shifts in human thinking in one book is a lot to talk about. Maybe I’ll read his second /third book in the series as well.