Monday, February 28, 2011

The Car Dunk

Just in case you missed it here's a supercool slow mo vid of former Sooner Blake Griffin and his amazing dunk over a car that won him the All-Star Slam Dunk contest. Watch for the ball being thrown from inside the car through the sunroof then slammed home by Griffin. Amazing!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Bye Ronaldo

Ronaldo retired this past week. The real Ronaldo. The Ronaldo who currently holds the record for most World Cup goals, the Ronaldo who starred for PSV Eindhoven, FC Barcelona, Inter Milan, A.C. Milan, Corinthians and unfortunately the evil Real Madrid.

I hold a special tie in my memories with Ronaldo. I was living in Barcelona the one and only year he played for the blaugrana. It was a flukey thing that I happened to be in Catalunya during the 1996-1997 futbol season to see the greatest individual season in history. Ronaldo was only 19 years old and destroyed all the competition in Spain. La Liga was the perfect stage for his type of skills and Barca the perfect team.

But his greedy agents orchestrated a transfer and Ronaldo, crying when the manipulation finally came to light, was gone to Italy. He blew out his knee three times. He was still a great player but never quite the player he was that one extra-ordinary year in Camp Nou.

I was extremely fortunate to see him play in person. I saw him score a hat trick against the reigning League champions Atletico Madrid. Barca came back from a 0-3 deficit to shockingly win 5-4. I never been in a more electric atmosphere. 90,000 fans experiencing true collective effervescence.

Goodbye Ronaldo. You were one of the greatest. Every time I remember you I remember my own special year in Catalunya.

Video: This video is one of the most stunning goals of all time versus Compostela. They played this on the news over and over and over again for a week after it happened.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Kindle Creep Out.

I love my Kindle. However there's one feature that creeps me out.

When you turn the Kindle off a screensaver pops on the display. There are twenty-three of these screensavers and you see a different version each time you turn off the Kindle. I like most of them. But there's one that creeps me out...the Emily Dickinson screensaver. This particular image (seen above) makes her look like a psychotic zombie. Many times I'll turn the Kindle back on and then off again simply to move along to another less menacing picture.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Analysis of Emile Durkheim for SMU

And now, something to bore you all...

David C. White
Dr. Anthony Mansueto
Silk Roads and Silicon Superhighways
February 14, 2010

Analysis Paper One
Elementary Forms of Religious Life by Emile Durkheim

Emile Durkheim began his work during a particularly tumultuous time in French history although it might be difficult to find a time in French history that was not particularly tumultuous. However, the 1870’s, when Durkheim was writing, saw extraordinary change sweep over French society. The French had just suffered a humiliating defeat in the Franco-Prussian War at the hands of the rapidly coalescing German Second Reich. The working classes of Paris had revolted against the newly instituted Third Republic and briefly attempted the creation of a radically socialist government known as the Paris Commune. This experiment in radical socialism was short-lived before the Third Republic successfully stamped out the revolt.

Durkheim was a supporter of the Third Republic, the first truly secular democracy in France. As a French Jew he knew the difficult relationship French society had had with religion and with religious minorities in particular. The sixteenth century had seen the nation torn asunder by the French Wars of Religion. The minority Protestant Huguenots, after achieving control of the French throne had established the precedent of religious tolerance with the Edict of Nantes. The French Revolution of 1789 and the cult of reason that followed attempted to decisively secularize French society even going so far as renaming the Cathedral of Notre Dame the Temple of Reason and persecuting the Catholic Church. The pendulum swung the other way when Napoleon Bonaparte restored the Catholic faith for both political expediency and social cohesion.

Durkheim himself witnessed the anti-Semitic frenzy that surrounded the Dreyfus Affair in the 1890’s when a prominent Jewish military officer was falsely accused of betraying military secrets to Germany. Durkheim, a committed secularist and supporter of the Third Republic had seen firsthand the troubled relationship France had had with organized religion and with religious minorities. It was in this context that Durkheim began to study the problem of how to define a moral philosophy in a secular society.

Moral philosophies throughout human history had most often originated from cultural religious traditions. Durkheim, in his 1911 work Elementary Forms of Religious Life, began a thorough study of religion in order to answer a couple of perplexing questions. One, what was the cause of the growing suicide rate in France? Secondly, in a truly secular society how does one attain transcendental meaning? And finally, why does cultural effervescence happen when and the way it does?

Durkheim began his study by researching the traditions of some of the oldest religious traditions on Earth, especially the totemic rituals of Australia’s native aborigines. It was Durkheim’s contention that the fundamental truths about the nature of totemic religion would be consistent with the fundamental truths of all religions. Durkheim found that aboriginal religion was totemic in nature meaning that the belief construct was a collective representation of society. Totemic religion is highly liturgical and ritualistic. These rituals sought to recreate a phenomenon Durkheim termed cultural effervescence. Cultural effervescence are moments in history when society seems to act as a unified whole toward one goal in one accord yet in a way that is spontaneous and often non-hierarchical in structure.

In attempting to discover why cultural effervescence happened when and where it does many sociologists had attempted a rational approach to the question. Durkheim believed this approach to studying religion and cultural effervescence was flawed. His argument was that religion could not be analyzed scientifically because religion itself is not about thought or conceptions of knowledge. Religion is an organic structure of action and in his words something “to aid us to live.” Durkheim, despite being a committed secularist, presupposed a transcendental aspect to religion that could not be explained through logical analysis. Durkheim held that in attempting to study the basics of any religion one must give great attention to the metaphysical properties of ideas.

Durkheim paid great respect to the legitimacy of cultural effervescence. His thesis rested on the principle that “the unanimous sentiment of the believers of all times cannot be purely illusory.” The tie between religion and society was a reciprocal. Society must always be in action and to be in action society must act in common and religion was the conduit, in Durkheim’s view, that allowed society to work in common to gain consciousness of itself. He believed that all areas of human thought, including scientific thought originated in religion. Durkheim even went as far as to say that all the great social institutions of society originated in religious institutions. In Durkheim’s words “the idea of society is the soul of religion.”

Despite being a rational sociologist Durkheim left plenty of room for mysticism in his analysis of religion’s role in society. He called this “mystic mechanics.” Durkheim warned social theorists not to discount transcendentalism and mysticism in the study of religion. In his view there were some aspects of religion that could never be explained away with logical syllogisms and rational diagrams.
Durkheim also believed it was helpful to study religion because society is made in religion’s image. These reflections were holistic. Both positive and negative characteristics of religion were reflected in society. Religion clarifies and systemizes the goals and dreams of society at large. Religion presents an avenue for men to come into contact with the sacred which Durkheim defined as “something added to and above the real.” Without contact with the sacred men’s lives become meaningless leading to nihilism, self-annihilation and ultimately self-destruction in the form of suicide. With the death of the individual comes the death of the society because Durkheim says all societies need an ideal that helps form its idea of itself.
Religion, in Durkheim’s view, is therefore essential to the survival of society. It is not something to be swept away into the dust bin of history or mythology. Religion is the origin of collective effervescence and allows societies to act in common. It allows men to act. Durkheim was certainly aware of the destructive forces of religion in society. But he believed that the state could harness the positive benefits of religion to bring meaning to civilization and serve as a support for progress.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Whimsy or Self-delusion?

Some random thoughts...

Occam's Razor is too complicated.

Patriarch Nikon of Moscow thought the Old Belief movement sucked because it was led by Avvakum.

Gov. Rick Perry is a sleaze and liar. Says Texas is leading the way, once ran Al Gore's campaign in Texas, switched sides, now says he's a Tea Partier but accepts Obama's stimulus money. Get's re-elected (second longest term only to Hosni Mubarak) then it turns out there's a $25 billion budget shortfall in Texas. Yes that said billion. Now school districts have frozen hiring even though more kids are entering the system. Meanwhile Gov. Goodhair lives in multi-million penthouse while the Gov's mansion gets renovated and takes trips to the Bahamas. Punk.

In 2011 I have only worked one five-day week since coming back from Christmas Break. Due to wind and snow and ice and flex days. I dig it the most. Good for my morale.

Student tried a jedi mind trick on me (said, "Mr. White, these aren't the droids you're looking for."). It didn't work because I'm a Jedi Master and know all the tricks.

Got an A on my first analysis paper last week for my SMU Master's course even though the Prof said hardly anyone gets an A on the first draft. I was superstoked although the 25 page monster that looms at the end of the semester still keeps me up at night. The paper was a...never mind I'll make a boring post out of it. Oops...another unproper use of an ellipses.

JDW announced two goals for the KHS Lady Soccer team the other night. They allowed him on the field for warmups and allowed him to practice shooting goals with the G/K.

Yes, I played one Lady Gaga song at halftime but that's only to appeal to my base. I quickly followed that up with The Ramones. So are we good? Besides if Dr. Rieghard likes Gaga than who am I to judge?

I am webmastering the new church website. check it out.

photo: JDW giving me the beat down in the snow.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Flickr updates and Snow Days!

Been a long time since a flickr update. So, since we're out of school for the third time this week I had a little time. Click HERE for some updated photos. Yes, that picture of the ruler was taken this morning in our front yard. Today is the busiest day for superbowl travelers. Welcome to Dallas! Hope you brought your skis.