February 10, 2018

When I was in fifth grade or so I read a book called "Truly Tasteless Jokes". I recently reread it on Kindle...
Two thoughts:
1. I was surprised how many jokes I remembered retelling over the years I got from this book
2. It was published in 1982 but I was still surprised at how often Kermit is a cultural reference.

My favorites from this time were "What's Helen Keller's favorite color? Corduroy" which is both kind of terrible (as were most Helen Keller jokes) but also kind of sweet and hopeful, and "Two cannibals are having dinner together, the guest says to his host 'Your wife sure makes good soup.' 'Yeah, but I'm going to miss her'"
A brief article I made for Lost in Mobile, about not quite understanding the pursuit of smart homes...
Had a maple scone from True Grounds this morning. It triggered very strong but entirely disconnected sensory memories... "I've had exactly this scone, and it's super evocative, but I'm not sure of what or when". Maybe 1369 Cafe circa 1998 when I lived in Inman Square?

Wonder if there's a French or German word for that...
"This country has lost its way. We need to go back to the good old days when America was prosperous."
"That's easy! All you have to do is fight a just war against a powerful overseas enemy during a time when major discoveries in computation, transportation, and energy production have just occurred. Prosecute the war in such a way that every powerful nation but your own is ruined. Afterward collect fleeing scientists and engineers. As your troops return enjoy the burst of social cohesion and the boom in manufacturing as you supply a devastated planet, while the world's best minds create ever better products, industries, and discoveries within your borders."
"Or we could stop letting gays marry."
"Your plan does have the virtue of simplicity."
--I cleaned up a transcription of This SMBC comic for This Quora Entry.
A while back I listened to Brett Weinstein on Sam Harris' podcast, here's a good summary. He mentioned the idea of "metaphorical truth"- a belief that is factually wrong but you come out ahead if you believe in it. The summary I link to summarizes his view as "Religion was valid metaphorical truth because it helped us before (for thousands of years). We're now at a point where it (often) hurts more than it helps, but that doesn't change how useful it was in the past."

Friendly Atheist had a pretty good piece on it, but I think Vonnegut nailed it in "Cat's Cradle" with what he called "foma" - "harmless untruths" - and advised "Live by the foma that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy."

I have very mixed feelings about that kind of pragmatic view about supernatural explanations for life as we can witness it...