Fish On Religion

You are apathetic and bored. Minutes ago, you opened your newspaper or browsed through your favorite news site. You found all the top stories were the current “hot topic” ones, from swine flu to Ms. Prejean’s recent escapades. You want to read something more novel, more substantive. You may even be up for a commentary piece.

If so, I may have the piece for you: “God Talk“, a recent New York Times blog post by Stanley Fish. If you are an English major, you may have heard of him. If not, he is both a Davidson-Kahn Distinguished University Professor of Humanities and a Professor of Law at Florida International University.

To the Class of 2009: An Open Letter

To the Class of 2009:

Three years ago at a friend’s Collegetown party, I was sitting on a couch next to a guy holding a beer the way a child clutches a security blanket. Amidst the dark atmosphere and loud music, he turned to me and urged me to enjoy myself while I was at college. “The world”, he told me, “says these are the best years of our life.”

Whether you have felt that way or not throughout your time at Cornell, you will almost certainly feel it in the next few days as your Cornell undergraduate experience draws to a close. As you experience your last Slope Day. As you leave your extracurriculars. As you entrust your leadership positions to other people. As you bid farewell to your friends on Graduation Day.

If Pot Were Legal: Pros and Cons of an Alternate World

As a blogger, my job is often to present news stories and provide commentary so as to begin a conversation. Sometimes, though, an article comes along where you don’t have to do much talking.

NPR released a fictional news story on April 20 on its “All Things Considered” radio program. The question they considered was simple: What if marijuana had been legal in the US for two years and was treated like alcohol in terms of taxation, regulation and who it could be sold to? What would the world be like?

The Little Loggerhead Who Swam to the Hospital: What Lies Beyond Us?

You’ll find only a brief blip about the turtle who swam to the Turtle Hospital on the news, but it’s enough to stir up feelings of compassion and intrigue.

Yes, there is a Turtle Hospital. You can find it in the city of Marathon in the Florida Keys. It is a charitable corporation funded by grants, foundations and personal donations. The hospital was founded in 1986 to help treat injured sea turtles, according to its Web site.

"Your First Time"

When you walk into a video game store, you know what you’re going to get: a lot of first person shooters, sports games and fantasy RPGs. Very little variety.

If these kinds of games appeal to you, great. If they don’t, chances are you won’t find something different for a very long time.

A recent article in CNET indicates game designers are cognizant of this problem and are working to fix this by developing more innovative games. At the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, a contest on March 27, game designers worked for 36 hours to develop a game. This year, the concept was “your first time”, or an autobiographical game about how the game designers lost their virginity.

How About Those Watchmen?

Now that the box office receipts are in, it’s hard to believe that “Watchmen” once had a lot of buzz behind it.

A week ago, the LA Times wrote that the film had a substantial drop in revenue, garnering $17.8 million in its second week from its opening weekend revenue of $55.2 million. This week, the film also had steep decrease in profits, making only $6.8 million in its third week. With its $60.6 million from overseas ticket sales, this brings the movie’s totals up to about $160 million.

Cameroonian Violence and The Pope: A Lesson in Cultural Differences

Cameroonian security forces have destroyed street stalls in the capital of Yaounde as part of an effort to clean up the city for a visit next week by Pope Benedict as part of his first official trip to Africa, according to a recent Reuters article. However, this leaves thousands of people without means of survival, and the Cameroonian government will not compensate them for their losses.


Facebook-Induced Firing

Cyberspace fascinates me, particularly because our culture’s view of it is changing. When I was in high school, if I posted a picture of a classmate on my Web site, I’d often be asked to take it down or erase him or her from the picture. Now, of course, it’s common to post pictures online on Facebook, and people concerned about privacy are more likely to “un-tag” themselves from photos instead of asking others to delete them. It seems as if people are not as concerned about the consequences of posting personal information and photos on the Web.

I was reminded of this recently when I read about an English girl who was fired because she posted on Facebook that she was bored at work, even though she didn’t name the company employing her.

Understanding Celebrity News with Robert Frost

“…I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;

And on a day we meet to walk the line

And set the wall between us once again…”

“Mending Wall” by Robert Frost

What does Robert Frost have to do with Joaquin Phoenix? Precious little at first glance. And yet he may have everything to do with explaining, in part, our obsession with celebrities.

Why do so many of us Americans find celebrities fascinating enough to read and talk about? I believe that when future anthropologists study today’s popular culture, they will find the obsession with the lives of actors, musicians, politicians, and other famous figures to be a complex phenomenon.