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Is the L.A. Times America's Best Newspaper? Posted on 07/18/2001.

Well, maybe, maybe not, but from my dad comes a bunch of links from the Los Angeles Times on a variety of topics of interest to peterme readers.

The Biology of Belief - author Vince Rause discusses the book he wrote with Andrew Newberg, a neuroscientist with evidence that suggests humans are, to some extent, hard-wired for belief. Rause also wrote a brief companion piece, Your Brain. Your Brain on God. Any Questions?, which is hampered by the lack of illustrations on line.

The Disappearing Comic Book - another solemn state-of-the-comics industry report, though, remarkably, with no quotes from Scott! Shannon Wheeler, creator of Too Much Coffee Man, discusses his choice to turn the comic into a magazine, and how such an action might reflect on the maturation of the comic readers market.

Reviewers' 'A.I.' Also Stands for 'Aging, Irrelevant' -- Reading Entertainment Weekly a week or so ago (I always read EW on airplanes), I noted with some amazement how A.I. received, on average, higher marks from critics than from audiences (which pretty much never happens). This article attempts to explain why that is, how middle-aged critics, forced to wade through the dreck that is now Hollywood's output, are extremely forgiving to this rather obvious failure, for it at least *tries* provide some food for thought, that it has some weight in the ideas presented.

A.I. is a movie that I cannot recommend to others, but that has proven a remarkable topic of conversation, and that I don't at all regret having seen. When someone with such a seeming mastery of his craft (Spielberg) is given all the money he needs to make exactly the movie he wants, and turns out such a big honking mess, well, that's interesting. Because of it's narrative flaws, it's not really worth discussing from a story/plot point of view--such an effort gets stuck in quagmire. However, it's compelling to ruminate on the film-making that went on here, the decisions that were made, how this was obviously a very personal film for Spielberg, how Spielberg utterly lost his way (and seemingly his interest in the story) in the second act (Flesh Fair appears as a cheesy 70s bad-biker movie, and Rouge is less titillating than Broadway near Columbus in North Beach), and how in the final act, which was utterly bizarro, Spielberg was 'back in control,' interested in what he had to say, though saying some really odd stuff. I suppose A.I. has the conversational appeal of a train wreck, or juicy gossip.

3 comments so far. Add a comment.

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Regarding "The Biology of Belief": Last month, Rebecca linked to a Washington Post story covering not just Newberg's work, but perspectives from a whole range of scientists exploring these ideas. I found Rebecca's comments quite insightful as well.
Posted by jjg @ 07/18/2001 03:33 PM PST [link to this comment]

The thing that interests me about this study is that it purports to be about man's ability to believe, or not believe in god, yet it has nothing at all to do with man's stated beliefs in god. Quite frankly, I have never met a man who believed in god. I have known, and known of, many persons who held a belief in "A" god; or "My" god. But none of these gods were perceived through a mystical or spiritual experpience. These were personal gods who were better than the other man's gods. These were gods worth going forth to kill and enslave for, or force conversion to.

"Kill for Christ!" was the European rallying cry throughout the 12th and 13th Centuries. The Christian god was deemed more worshipful than the Jewish and Muslim gods. And a couple of centures later, the Spanish conquest of The New World mingled god with gold as new slaves were indoctrinated to the mystical values of Christianity.

"My" god is invoked and thanked for victory at almost every American sporting event and boxing match as if the other fellow's god was backing a loser. Just what has the physical battering of another human being got to do with the spiritual feeling of oneness with the universe?

What "The Biology of Belief" shows me is that our brain may be wired for mysticism, or it may not; but that both of those conditions are opposite states to the the proclaimed beliefs of religious zealots and other true believers who claim to know god. I may not believe in a god, but I also can understand that if there were such an entity, it would have to exist beyond my understanding, and beyond my ability to call on for personal favors and victories. This entity would have to have the same interest in all its creations, which means that no one could go to war in the Middle East, Northern Ireland, Europe, Asia, India in the name of this entity without showing disrespect and disdain for the entity, itself.
Posted by B.J. @ 07/19/2001 08:41 AM PST [link to this comment]

My neighbor has written about this, and just gave me a copy of his new book "The Transmitter to God" (ISBN: 0970073313). I still have questions, but it's a pretty thorough treatment, and some of his points are tough to disagree with. Of course, Julian Jaynes was tough to disagree with too. #:)
Posted by Kurt @ 07/19/2001 11:03 PM PST [link to this comment]

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