The End of All Things Is At Hand–Not From Heaven but On Earth

Is it not ironic that it might well turn out that we, the species who longs for a dramatic “end of all things at hand” ends up bringing it about through our own mismanagement of our good earth and its abundant resources. “Tending the garden” is fine but we have unleashed such disruption we well might be past the tipping point. Joseph Romm’s new book, Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know, is the best I have seen in terms of a readable “just the facts please” report. And he largely leaves out factory farming, and methane gas, and deforestation in the Amazon, which some argue is a larger factor than our burning of fossil fuels–see the film “Cowspiracy” (it is on Netflix) and you will never think the same about eating meat that is so produced.

What Computers Can’t Do and Will Never Do: The Passing of Hubert Dreyfus

I find myself thinking about the loss of Hubert Dreyfus quite often these days. I realize many of my readers have likely never heard of the extraordinary philosophical contributions of Professor Dreyfus–or “Bert,” as those who knew him called him. The NY Times tribute obituary: “Hubert L. Dreyfus, Philosopher of the Limits of Computers, Dies at 87” is a good place to start.

What I missed was the sweetly ironic Tweet on April 22nd, the day of his death, presumably posted by his wife Genevieve–or his ghost–but clearly orchestrated by him as he was dying with a smile:

There are a number of other thoughtful obituaries and tributes, including the NYTimes obituary linked above and this piece in Prospect, but I think that this one from the Berkeley News, where Dreyfus taught for 50 years, might capture the spirit of the man the best:

Hubert Dreyfus, preeminent philosopher and AI critic, dies at 87 _ Berkeley News


Robert Kuhn did some wonderful interviews with Dreyfus on his PBS series “Closer to Truth” that I use in my classes and highly recommend, see the profile and links here. Kuhn texted me that “Closer to Truth” plans a special tribute to Dreyfus and I will post the link when it is up.

Continue reading “What Computers Can’t Do and Will Never Do: The Passing of Hubert Dreyfus”

The End of the World As We Know It–My Prediction

I am teaching a course this semester called “The End of the World as We Know It” after the REM song of that name. We are examining ideas associated with Biblical prophecy and the Apocalypse, both Jewish and Christian (and towards the end, a bit of Islam), in the West for the past 2500 years.

Little did I realize, when I planned this course last year, that September 23, 2017 would become the focus of such a wide-spread wave of apocalyptic hysteria in the evangelical prophecy world. If you have not heard of this just try a YouTube search for “September 23, 2017” and you will see what I mean–with multiple thousands of videos uploaded that focus on this date. Yes, I am talking about this week–just five days from now! It all has to do with a rare “Sign” in the heavens involving a configuration of the constellation Virgo, with the sun, moon, four of our planets, and a group of stars. This event is supposed to echo the signs in the heavens at the birth of Jesus and precisely fulfill the vision in Revelation 12:1:

And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery.

Continue reading “The End of the World As We Know It–My Prediction”