Rivers Are Damp

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Labor Day Weekend Reading

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I’m seriously bored boring this Labor Day weekend.  Thank goodness there’s U.S. Open tennis on TV to keep me sorta halfway entertained.  If you need something to get you going, maybe one of these links will help.

  • A British cartographer thinks internet mapping is destroying history by leaving out local landmarks.  “We’re in real danger of losing what makes maps so unique,” she says.
  • One of the most stunning, exciting upsets of the Beijing Olympics was Matthew Mitcham’s win in platform diving.  In the last round, his nearly perfect dive allowed him to overtake China’s Zhou Luxin, who’d led from the very start of the finals.  Bafflingly, NBC—which spent an amazing amount of time discussing and detailing the friends and families of other divers—never mentioned that Mitcham, whose partner was in the stands, was one of the handful of openly gay men in the Games.  Later, NBC both defended and apologized for its decision.  (As always, Outsports is the place to look for news of interest to gay sports fans.)
  • In other news Olympic sports news, a United States archery coach faced criticism that his religious proselytizing crossed ethical boundaries.  In this NYT article, the coach, Kisik Lee, said archers needed an empty mind and that he wasn’t sure whether non-Christians could achieve that.  (None of the American archers earned medals in Beijing.)
  • The death of Dave Freeman, the man who wrote 100 Things to Do Before You Die, caused BBC News Magazine to ask why ‘before you die’ books are popular.  I own only one, 1001 Paintings You Must See Before You Die, but it’s just something I browse through once in awhile; it’s no life mission for me.  Are people really looking for life missions in checklist form?
  • In a fascinating Q&A in Salon, historian of religion James P. Carse, author of The Religious Case Against Belief, disputes the idea that the world’s great religions have any underlying unity at all.  Transcendence, for instance, is a Christian/Western notion, he says, one that’s difficult to find in Buddhism and not a real emphasis of Judaism.  Carse also argues that poets inspired religion.  I’m not entirely sure I fully understand Carse’s central thesis, but I’m putting The Religious Case into my to-be-read pile.

Written by Jimmy

August 30th, 2008 at 9:55 pm

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