Wednesday, December 29

14% Catholic

I did one of those stupid internet polls and got the following result:

1. Secular Humanism (100%)
2. Unitarian Universalism (92%)
3. Liberal Quakers (78%)
4. Non-theist (75%)
5. Theravada Buddhism (72%)
6. Neo-Pagan (65%)
7. Mainline - Liberal Christian Protestants (63%)
8. New Age (55%)
9. Taoism (52%)
10. Orthodox Quaker (47%)
11. Reform Judaism (47%)
12. Mahayana Buddhism (46%)
13. Bahá'í Faith (36%)
14. Jainism (34%)
15. New Thought (33%)
16. Scientology (30%)
17. Sikhism (29%)
18. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (28%)
19. Islam (23%)
20. Mainline - Conservative Christian Protestant (23%)
21. Orthodox Judaism (23%)
22. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (21%)
23. Seventh Day Adventist (19%)
24. Hinduism (16%)
25. Eastern Orthodox (14%)
26. Roman Catholic (14%)
27. Jehovah's Witness (10%)

I do consider myself a secular humanist so the poll got that right. Given that I actually am an atheist, I was alarmed to see that I scored higher for Unitarian Universalism than for non-theist. I thought that Unitarians were liberal Christians. Apparently, that's what they used to be but now they are so liberal they're not even really Christians any more.

(My knowledge of Unitarianism, like my knowledge of so many things, was derived from the Simpsons. There's an episode where Rod and Todd Flanders are playing a computer game, the object of which is to "convert" the heathens using some kind of conversion gun. At one point one brother says "I got him" and the other replies "No, you just winged him and turned him into a Unitarian.")

I can't understand how I scored 63% for mainline protestant. Clearly, the test doesn't correctly weigh your responses. After all, I don't believe in god, Jesus, etc, etc. I wouldn't count my belief system as very consistent with any Christian faith. Even worse is the 55% for New Age. Urgh, I am not more that half hippie.

. . . . . . .

Tomorrow I drive all the way to Atlantic City for New Year's with Brad and Ray. I have Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska album ready for the trip ("Now, there's trouble bustin' in from outta state") - I also finally have to make good on that bet I made and drink a Night Flight.

Monday, December 20

Cold Ex-Pagan Holidays

The relentless consumerism of Christmas (and Hanukkah for those Jews who don't want to feel left out) in the U.S. is overwhelming. Was it this bad in Australia? I can't remember.

Do any of you folks in Australia, California or Texas wish you could have a white Christmas? I'll swap you the weather up here. As I walked to work today it was -23C (-9F). When I went out to get lunch it had warmed up to -22C. I'm about to go home and it's back down to -23C.

Tuesday, December 14

Washington Post Finally Covers an Important Issue

Two people sent me this Washington Post article about winter surfing in New Hampshire. I went surfing there on Sunday and it was phenomenal. I was nervous about snow during the drive but there were only a few flurries. By the time I arrived in New Hampshire the wind had died and the surf was glass. Thank god I didn't let my fear of driving in the snow keep me in Burlington.

The Washington Post requires 'registration.' I recommend going to BugMeNot to get an account (they have account for pretty much any free service on the web).

A question. Why does the spell checker on blogger not recognize "blog"? Strange.

Wednesday, December 8

The Sound

My friend Steve Peterson has just started a new blog, titled Do Cats Eat Bats?. With the addition of his blog to my links section it has taken on the appearance (if you look carefully and keep an open mind) of a little man. Un is the neck.

Steve has the thrilling news that one of his "horror thriller" screenplays, The Sound, is definitely going ahead and is already in pre-production. The movie will be a co-production of Fast Carrier Pictures and Velvet Steamroller Productions. If you go to the news section of Fast Carrier's website you can read about the film. I strongly recommend you go there and check out the fantastic plot summary. Congratulations Steve!

I met Steve when we were randomly assigned to the same apartment in the horrendous Starkey Apartments complex on the horrendous Cook Campus of the horrendous Rutgers University in the horrendous state of New Jersey. I first arrived in the US in late August 1998 before the semester started. It was the kind of day where New Jersey feels like the inside of a smoker's lung, nothing but humidity and smog. As I traveled down the New Jersey turnpike from Newark to New Brunswick I began to despair as I realized this was my new home. I hoped that New Brunswick, a college town, might be better than what I was seeing so far. How wrong I was.

When I arrived at Starkey, I knocked on my new apartment's door but no one was home. In a perfect example of Rutgers' efficiency, I looked at my campus map and realized that the office with my key was on a completely different campus on the other side of town. So began a 3 hour journey, on 4 different buses, to Busch campus and back before I could get into my apartment.

When I got into the apartment no one was there but I could tell someone else had already moved in. Steve soon returned and we did the introduction thing, 'So what are you at Rutgers for?' Turned out we were both there for the PhD program in philosophy. Steve turned out to be a great housemate (which is more than I can say for the ultra-conservative religious nut Texan we also had to share the apartment with) and, not least among his virtues, he had a car, which meant I could go grocery shopping (always a good thing). Later we moved out to an off campus apartment where we had oversized grad-student parties that would get busted up by the cops.

Steve can write a philosophy paper in an afternoon, a novel in six weeks and a screenplay every couple of months. Hopefully, we'll be seeing many more "horror thrillers" from him soon.

Friday, December 3

Surfing, Surfing and Surfing

Three days in a row. I got to go surfing three days in a row without even taking a day off. Pretty good for someone with a full-time job in Burlington, Vermont.

Thursday (Thanksgiving day) was, as predicted, large and blown out under ominous clouds (and a 'severe thunderstorm' warning). I spent a lot of time underwater but it was good practice to tackle storm surf with my new board. After I got out, I watched five crazy guys surf at Rye on the Rocks in the dark. Two of them didn't even paddle out until after sunset. The waves may be infrequent, but nothing in Australia compares to the somber beauty of the North Atlantic during a storm. Everything is rendered in shades of black (a black sea, a black pebble beach, a point of black rocks and jet black thunder clouds). I could only see the surfers because their wetsuits were slightly blacker than the ocean.

On Friday the sun came out, the waves cleaned up and the air temperature dropped below freezing (water temperature is still about 45F or 7C). I surfed until I could barely paddle and my feet were iceblocks. The sun was behind me as I rode and I would watch my shadow riding the blue-green face of the wave ahead of me. Friday night Ray and I went into a subdued Boston for some beers. On Saturday, the waves were only waist high but I went in anyway. It has been hard to readjust to work.

. . .

Since we are on the topic of surfing it's appropriate to tell you that my paper 'The Tragicomedy of the Surfers' Commons' has been published in the Deakin Law Review. My fellow authors in this volume include two people with jobs I covet: Philip Ruddock (Australia's attorney general) and Justice Michael Kirby of the High Court of Australia. I'm going to take that as a good sign.