Best Animated Superman Episodes

  1. Apokalips... Now! (Superman: TAS) - epic beyond belief, the ending is heart-wrenching
  2. The Late Mr. Kent (Superman: TAS) - Superman a detective? Who cares - aweseome story!
  3. Legacy (Superman: TAS) - another incredible Darkseid tale
  4. Mxylzptlicated (Superman: TAS) - amazingly original, entertaining, and hilarious
  5. Mechanical Monsters (Max Fleisher's Superman) - my favorite of the Fleisher episodes
  6. Superman (Max Fleisher's Superman) - groundbreaking animation
  7. The Main Man (Superman: TAS) - Lobo kicks ass!
  8. Brave New Metropolis (Superman: TAS) - an overlooked, wonderful story
  9. Knight Time (Superman: TAS) - really cool 'what if'
  10. Unity (Superman: TAS) - Supergirl's tour-de-force
  11. World's Finest (Superman: TAS) - fun Batman/Superman angles
  12. A Better World (Justice League) - the only good Justice League episode is actually pretty cool

Hey, Odysseus! Since you don't make lists, I figured I'd just throw our conversation beneath one of my own lists, one which is unlikely to become overcrowded. I thought what you said earlier was very interesting:

...god has made man (male and female) with an eternal inner spirit that is in god's likeness. The human soul is as close as we will ever come to experiencing god in this world. The holy spirit resides in everyone. Everyone.

Your worldview is very intriguing to me. You appear to believe in evolution and in radiometric dating, and yet you think an eye would've taken more time to evolve than scientists leave for the history of the planet. You also believe that God created humans, but that we will never experience Him except through our own, human souls.

I've learned too much in the past few months to assume that these beliefs are irreconcilable. Would you mind elaborating on them?

For the record, I believe God created the universe and is active in our lives.

Be careful, I try to be very precise in what I write. I also write too fast and have a difficult time proofreading so... I liken it to a great sprinter (or, perhaps a lousy one) trying to run the 110m high hurdles. But I said that "a fish eye alone would have taken 10 billion years, but the eye isn't evolving alone." Its the feedback that supercharges evolution. If you go by my very generous "more than 363,992 steps, in a genetic sense" (let's try ultra-philanthropy and say 400k) AND you figure that a DNA move happens every 10 years then that is 4 million years. The Pre-Cambrian period started 544 million years ago (mya.) I think that leaves plenty of time to hit the snooze button.

Evolutionary feedback (to my mind) turbo-charges everything. One of the most poisonous (by several orders of magnitude) animals on earth is the rough-skinned newt. It is poisonous (fatally) to everyone and everything. We're not even suposed to pick it up. There is only one animal that is immune (sorta) to the rough-skinned newt. That would be the garter snake. It is one tough mamba (not literally.) Still, when a garter snake eats a rough-skinned newt (I love that name) it is not without cost. The garter snake loses all control over its body functions for several hours after swallowing a rough-skinned newt. I've read someplace that this leaves them vulnerable to coyotes, but I havve trouble thinking that coyotes are that tough (although they are hard to poison.)

How did these two animals become so poisonous & poison resistant? Feedback. The newt starts getting bad-tasting but there are some snakes who don't mind bad tasting foods. This helps both animals evolutionarily. Fewer snakes eat the newt while the garter snakes have a source of food that other snakes don't compete for. These garter snakes can eat pizza, ice cream, voles, moles and rough-skinned newts. They develop a taste for newt because nobody else eats them and (therefore) they are flourishing. The newt then must get down with the venom. It tries to discourage the garter snakes who develop even greater tolerance. Soon the newt is the food that they rely on. The newt is desperately getting more poisonous. Now the newt is the only thing that the garter snake can eat so he gets down with the immunity tolerance to poison. The arms race is on and the two animals start moving faster and faster. Once one of them figured out how to make some poison (and the other figured out how to not mind very much) then it is a lot easier to make more and more (and care less and less) than it is to stumble upon those qualities. And both of them have to keep up the evolving race.

I think this is what happened with the eye. I can see you so I can eat you. I can see you so I can run away. Oh yeah, I can see you better, in the dark, in sandy water, through your ink (aw hell, what I wouldn't give for sonar.) I'm gonna get you. I think this also happened with Human fingers and shoulders (and maybe social skills and music appreciation.)

I'm hesitant to get into another La Brea tar pit with you. I got sucked into evolution (and I didn't/don't mind.) But you crank out so much material (and responses take a lot out of me, again I don't really mind. It's just tough.) Religion is so difficult to write about. Either everyone gets angry or everyone gets lost. much like evolution. I was very pleased to see that at least one person hadn't rolled their eyes and tuned me/you/us out. I'd also like to have exchanges with others (that may mean not excluding others as opposed to not having exchanges with you.) In my mind's (fish) eye I want to write about art/culture/muppets. I'd also like to write more and shorter.. and better. maybe faster. Gosh, this sounds awfully negative. Let me just say how much I've enjoyed these/those exchanges (I really think its helped my writing to have to explain myself clearly.) So I think that I'm going to try and carry on. It would help if we could frame all of our exchanges in terms of The Muppets, Richard Dooling, continental cooking and Humphrey Bogart.

I'm trying to be more moderate and not always respond with so many boots on the ground (all evidence to the contrary.) I know it scares me, it must scare others. Boy, I hate introspection... I wonder why that is? Goodness, why can't I just be happy?

Don't even post a reply to this, I know you'll be cool about it and we'll try to pick it up at sometime in the future...

It is problematic, when discussing one's worldview, to declare what you believe. This may seem to be a paradox (in every sense of the word) but as soon as a philosophy appears to be fixed then it becomes a position that can be assaulted. Giving a name (applying a label) to belief attaches a host of preconceptions that come with that name. This is a minor impediment in everyday conversation. In matters of ideology it is a major obstacle. See? The word "ideology" has negative connotations in today's language. Call it Weltanschauung. Suffice it to say that when I say "blue" you may not be imagining what I mean by "blue."

Perhaps my reticence here is rooted in the difficulties of understanding and being understood. It might be because I am hesitant to assert my precepts to others. (I think that you and I are different in this way and it is something that I sometimes admire and/or envy about you.) It is also possible that I have little certitude about having all the answers. Or many of the answers. Or any of the answers. Or even some of the questions. My inner-self is hardly this diffident. I feel as if I have a strong sense of right and wrong and a rich spiritual existence. But that may just be the bipolar talking. I think the question here is how does one (or how should one) express personal convictions. How should someone communicate an inner spirit to others? How can such a vitality be shared with others?

I try to take the ethics of others on their own terms. (In my mind) It helps me to become a better person by understanding, accepting, judging and forgiving others by the standards that they set for themselves. It is also an expression of the Golden Rule; I would like others to take my measure by how I live up to my own standards as well as what those standards are. This doesn't mean that a person's values exist in a vacuum. They don't. A person can act strictly in accordance with their ethos and still be (for lack of a better word) evil. Ethical egoism is an entirely self-consistent school of thought but it gives rise to despicable behaviour. Inflicting harm on others is always wrong (although we can argue about situational ethics and relative worth if you'd like.) I can, however, admire the discipline and fervour that a true Hobbesian might bring to living his own life. Hipocrisy may be the greatest philosophical sin but it pales in comparison to the physical, material injuries done to one's fellow woman in this life.

So I suppose that I do "appear to believe in evolution and in radiometric dating..." at least as far as I understand them (which isn't very well.) Perhaps I should say that I trust evolution, radiometric dating and science in general. At the very least I have chosen to live my life with a tacit acceptance of their value. I don't know anyone who doesn't conduct their life in this manner (although some of them aren't very happy about it.) What this means in a broader context is uncertain to me. I have difficulty seeing what affect my understanding of gravity might have upon matters of my personal morality, inner life or behavior. I do make an exception for such matters as bungee jumping in spite of my faith in rubber bands.

If you believe that science (in the broad sense of the term) is in opposition to god (also in the broad sense) I would try to respond in two different (and hopefully reconcilable) ways. That would be scientific and religious, both in the narrow sense of the terms. My scientific reaction would be: prove it to me (and hopefully you will convince me.) My spiritual (let's not call it "religious," it implies too much hierarchy) reaction would be: explain it to me (and hopefully you will convince me.) I think that both are formidable challenges. They're not formidable because I'm resistant to either argument, although I am skeptical about both. The challenge comes from the very nature of proof/comprehension. Science has nothing to say about a spiritual existence while religious experience is so intimately personal that it defies explanation to (or the understanding of) others. This may be a symptom of narrow- or close-mindedness on my part. Just because I can't imagine it doesn't necessarily mean that it is complicated or difficult to understand. (At this point I must say that I feel as if I have an open mind.)

I know that this hasn't directly addressed the matters of creation, the universe, the effect that god has in our lives or the soul but those are awfully big mouthfuls. I (hope and) feel that it is better to see if we have an understanding as to what each one of us means when we say "blue"... and we shall see where that leads us. (For me) That is more than enough to chew on for a little while.

Dear 0dysseus,

As you noted in your last letter, I'm quick to declare what I believe and thusly invite swift "assault" upon my position. I'm comfortable with that because I'm among friends at Listology and I'm more interested with sharing (occasionally in a comprehensible manner) my views than "winning" any debates. Were I debating on the floor of the Supreme Court, I'd prepare better, reveal less, and wear pants. Or better yet, step aside for someone like yourself.

It's unfortunate that I'd project my own penchant for self-revelation on someone who clearly knows she is more effective in the shadows. But I hope you understand that when I asked you earlier to clarify your worldview, it wasn't so that I'd be better able to assault it. Curiosity, I swear.

Your last letter mentioned judging and forgiving others by their own standards. If you judge me by how I meet my own standards, then I hope you're doing equal amounts of forgiving. My ethical egoism (for good or bad) is confounded when my beliefs significantly shift so often.

As for the final topic of your letter, I do not believe that science is in opposition to God. That would be impossible, as I believe God created the physical universe. But much of what God has revealed to us through scientific discovery is difficult to reconcile with my long-held interpretations of the Bible. Both science and long-held Biblical interpretations have been incorrect countless times, and it's hard to know which to piggy-back when they diverge.

           sans duende,

              Luke Muehlhauser

P.S. Do you ever feel that thinking actually doesn't improve life? Poor Truman, ignorance is bliss. The more I learn about the world and its people, the more depressed I grow about the awful reality of earth. The more I think about what I believe, the less I know what I believe. You seem enthralled with thought. Are you happy with what it has brought you?

In truth, I was trying to avoid staking out a hard and firm position of my own. I wasn't referring to your intellectual flag-planting. Nor planning an assault.

I'm not sure what your standards are (and you may feel the same way.) But I am intrigued by the devoutness of your beliefs if, in fact, they do shift so often. "Long-held interpretations of the Bible" would seem to say that there is some constancy or consistency to your belief system. I'm not sure what interpretations are addressed by both science and the Bible (and I don't know what you mean by "piggy-back" in this case.) But if science and the Bible "diverge" that means that they were/are together at some point. I don't know what point that might be. They seem to me to be concerned with different issues entirely. Maybe I'm not asking the relevant questions. It's tough to think of a doubt that could be resolved by both looking to both science and the Bible.

I do love thinking about life... and thinking about thinking... and thinking about other stuff. I don't presume that thinking always makes things better but I'm sure that not thinking always makes things worse. Reality can be awful and depressing (and awfully depressing.) Knowledge is often painful but, once I learn something, I can't bring myself to wish it away. If you could make the decision for your (unwitting) self as to whether or not to discover, learn and engage with the world around you what would you decide? I say that a moral life requires participation, trial, struggle and growth. (If you believe in such things then) In some way, Lucifer did us all a favour by getting us expelled from Eden. Now, with the bitter fruit of knowledge on our tongue, we know that we have a choice in life. Choices in life. And to make those choices we are required to learn what we can. We shouldn't wait for the truth to be revealed to us. To do that would be to deny the power of the Fall.

Thinking is what allows us to lead a life of meaning. "Blind faith" is just that, blind. By looking at something with open eyes, an open mind and an open heart we can honour whoever created us and gave us the ability to see, learn and feel. A state of grace does not exist without sin and we are elevated by the decisions we make in the face of the sin that we are born into. We are required to think to lead a good and fulfilling life. It is not meant to be easy, whether it was designed or not. Thinking gives us all a chance to do good, not just be good. Our knowledge is imperfect and we see in a mirror dimly; only a child can speak like a child, think like a child and reason like a child. To become a man/woman and give up childish ways requires not just thinking and reasoning but thinking and reasoning in a way that is beyond that of a child.

I once wrote a paper on The Truman Show as an allegory for the story of the Garden of Eden. Truman Burbank exists in a state of blissful ignorance in a world constructed for him by an omnipotent Christof figure. The forbidden fruit for Truman is Lauren/Sylvia, the knowledge that everything around him is a "lie." When Truman does take a bite of the apple (notice that the sweater he has kept is a rich, ripe red) it sets him off on a journey out of his world. It is a journey to find what it truly means to be himself. To stay in Seahaven would be the easier choice. I wonder if you would make the same choice Truman did. Sometimes I am miserable and depressed in spite of all of my thinking. Who's to say that things would be any different if I didn't think about the world around me? I take comfort in the fact that I can know if I'm depressed or happy... and sometimes it is a cold comfort. A cold comfort indeed.

Really, it's only recently that my spiritual beliefs have been in turmoil. I had a spiritual rebirth about 5 months ago and since then I've been rewriting everything from scratch. Most issues I haven't addressed and those I have are still being edited. Most of my "long-held interpretations of the Bible" are those issues I haven't addressed, so they've remained at their 'default' position (where they were 10 years ago) for now.

Some issues that are addressed by the Bible and science are the origins of the universe and the formation of species. Science and the Bible don't seem to do battle on issues of gravity, speed of light, etc., but when it comes to the age of the earth they seem to diverge. Should I jump on science's back or 6-day-creation's back? Either one could be right, either one could be wrong.

Thinking: honestly, I think I'd take the blue pill.

Sometimes age really is just a state of mind. I would ask, "What does the age of the Earth mean to you?" If you are looking for an answer that will fit in with the Theory of Gravity, the Theory of Relativity, the atomic clock, the seasons and the tides, sunspots, fossils, continental drift, global warming, etc ad infinitum... If you are looking for an answer to fit into that context then I would turn to science. If you are looking for an answer that will provide meaning, purpose, spiritual weight, an explanation of the intent behind its existence and give us the "Why" of being... If you are looking for an answer to fit into that context then I would turn to the Bible (or another tome of faith of your choosing.)

Trying to predict earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, famines, floods, plagues by using the Bible seems (to me) to be fraught with futility. Nor does the Bible provide a good explanation (for my taste) as to how these disasters occur. But trying to ascribe a deeper meaning, a spiritual import or an emotional significance to these events using science is just as futile. This may be an overly simplistic utilitarian (in the completely non-philosophical sense) way of looking at things... but I find that the Bible is of little practical help in the way that things work while science has nothing to say about the larger purpose of things. Either one could be right. Either one could be wrong. Both could be right. Both could be wrong. It may depend upon what you mean by "right," "wrong" and "both."

Honestly, I don't think that you'd take the blue pill. (Notice how the pill that promises only "truth" is just as red as a sweater or an apple.) The unexamined life is not worth living... and for some of us the examination is living.

Listening to this discussion with John Polkinghorne reminded me of you (and jim)

...especially the five minutes from 29:30-34:30.
WARNING: It's a large file (an hour long and high-quality audio) but well worth it... if only for you for those five minutes.

Thanks for that link. I am also reminded of you and Jim and myself.

From scientifically-trained therapists acknowledging the importance of the spiritual realm on personal health to Howard Gardner's current brain mapping of Spiritual Intelligence to the scientific study of eschatology, a few spiritual and scientific people are beginning to respect and trust each other's findings.

Polkinghorne has poked at some of my own unfinished speculations about God and creation, and horned his way into some uncertain territory. I can't say I agree or disagree with his central arguments from minutes 29-40, but they are attractive to me.

I certainly disagree with the idea that God does not "interfere" with his creation very often. I observe frequent activity that does not agree with natural processes at all and attribute it to supernatural forces, often God.

And I certainly agree that "It's very important to understand what we mean when we say God is almighty. We mean by that, not that God can do absolutely anything, but God can do what God wills in accordance with God's nature. I mean, the good God can't do evil deeds, the rational God can't decree that 2+2=5. And if God is going to bring into being a world in which creatures make themselves, and God judges that to be a world of greater good than a ready-made world, than even God cannot make that a world in which there isn't a costly side to things."

Science and the Trinity is on its way.

What I enjoyed about John Polkinghorne's philosophy is that both scientific and religious perspectives are encompassed and they do not have to measure up to one another. They become two aspects of a coherent view. Sort of a quantum field theory for personal belief. I found it to be quite sublime.

I'm not sure that there are arguments being made in that or any part of the program. Perhaps it's just that I'm curious and interested in the explanation and not in whether I agree with him. And I'm not sure that I do agree with anything he says. But I'm less skeptical of his intellectual and spiritual honesty (lack of hypocrisy) than I ever thought I could be. I'll try to say that better: The internal consistency of his reasoning is beautiful. It is beautiful to the point of stunning.

I admit that I had never heard of Polkinghorne before but I'm very interested in what he says (and how he says it.) I encourage you to listen to the entire program, not just what particularly bought you to my mind. I confess that it was (only in part) an artifice to persuade you to start dip a toe into the waters. I am grateful that you did at least that. Thank you.

It might be a failure of imagination or observation but I cannot conceive of "frequent activity that does not agree with natural processes at all." I am attracted to the idea that, if she exists, God has built uncertainty into the structure of reality. That is real power. It gives a great answer to the question, "How could a just God allow this to happen?" I also appreciate the distinction that he makes between mathematical agreement and spiritual dissention. I already think of that as being the dichotomy of a collective language as opposed to individual experience.

It is a brilliant, fascinating argument... so I guess there is an argument being made. That was neat.

Oh yes, I took your bait and listened to the whole thing. And then browsed the American Public Media show archives, and then the archives of other shows.

I cannot see structural uncertainty of the universe as accounting for phenomena so directly compassionate & responsive to human action as I observe. I'm blessed to have many close friends who are very tuned into the spiritual world. Through them I've been a witness to many "miracles." Miracles do happen, frequently, and not the "every baby born is a miracle from God" kind. The "almost totally destroyed liver suddenly and completely restored" kind.

"Quantum field theory for personal belief." I like that.

I'm tempted to start spewing about something socially controversial just so I can extract more brilliant mental summersaults from Odysseus, AJDaGreat, Jim, and others. :-) But I don't want to wear them out or try to just 'use' them for my own pleasure.

Hey man, I'm up for it if you are.

That's excellent. But I also don't want to generate controversy over something I don't care about, don't know about (though precedent suggestions otherwise), or argue a position I don't actually agree with ("Niggers and women are like cattle!") just to get things going. If I come up with a good topic that I don't think would bother Jim and his intentions with Listology too much, I'll post. I hope you'd do the same.

This isn't quite what I was thinking, but I'd still love to hear your thoughts on what is now #1 ("Duh! Men Like Sluts") over here.

How 'bout this (to no one in particular):

In 'Let's Shut Them Down,' an article in March's Reader's Digest, Michael Crowley admonishes that we shut down sites like Cryptome that publish information to the web that could be used by terrorists and other n'er-do-wells.

Cryptome is run by John Young, 69, who says that "the more information you have, the better protected you are." Cryptome also gathers data that could be used to fight terrorism or protect private citizens from abuse by their government.

Problems appear early in Crowley's article: "...the Internet is one of the most critical battlegrounds in our war against radical Islamists." Excuse me? Our war on who? I thought we were fighting terrorists. If neo-nazis or communist North Korea jump into the terrorism game, are we going to ignore them because our beef is just with the Muslims? I'm reminded of advice given to President Bush after a religiously connotative slip: Ex-nay on the Usade-Cray! Next sentence: "Terrorists... use encrypted online messages to communicate..." So, a government should scan all IMs and emails and dissallow encrypted messages? If you're gonna fellate the fucking PATRIOT Act, get a room.

But the big problem arrives in the 6th paragraph, where Crowley acknowledges the elephant in the room by quoting Stewart Baker, lawyer: "You're protected by the First Amendment guarantee of free speech. It's hard to prosecute someone who uses public sources to pull together information." Come again? If this information is already public, how is someone like Young the culprit? But it doesn't matter: "If the material is leaked to you, you can probably publish that too. Unfortunately, it's not illegal to be a jerk." Crowley's next paragraph moves on to other, smaller aspects of the debate and leaves the elephant standing there, its critics reduced to name-calling. Wow.

The situation is similar to the MPAA trying to stop filesharing by suing those who download copyrighted films. But if 83% of 2004 Academy Award nominee screeners for major American releases are online within a few weeks of the nominations, the biggest problem is obviously with those who can leak the screeners in the first place - those associated with MPAA member oganizations themselves! If the government doesn't want aerial photos of homes of CIA directors or the addresses of undercover cops published, then maybe they shouldn't leak them or allow them to be published elsewhere in the first place.

I hear Crowley's argument. I really do. I think the safety risk of publishing the addresses of undercover cops outweighs the benefits of combating citizen privacy abuse. But he can't win me over by ignoring the biggest problems with his proposal and by relying on a purely emotional appeal. But maybe he's smart to take that route. It got Bush re-elected.

And don't try to tell me that SUV owners and I support terrorism.

Am I correct it deducing you want to debate three things:

[1] Whether or not the right to broadcast sensitive material that could be valuable to terrorists should be protected by free speech.

[2] Whether or not the MPAA has the right to prevent downloading of copyrighted material.

[3] Whether or not driving an SUV makes you a terrorism supporter.

I'm really only interested in the first issue.

I'm not sure I'm going to generate much heat with this one:

Issue #1: I'm for strong cryptography; I think folks have a right to have private conversations.

Issue #2: I also feel that free speech can rightly be curtailed where national security is at risk. If I happened onto detailed plans for building a suitcase nuke and posted them online, in this specific case I think the government could rightly shut me up.

I am not saying I trust the government to use this power wisely or justly though.

I must admit that I complain about the problem but haven't yet thought of a solution; I agree that there are situations where it would be best for published information to be unavailable to the public. But I also wouldn't trust the government to not abuse such a power. Just look how they've already abused the PATRIOT act!

Thank you for your honesty and not 'manufacturing' heat.

Okay, this is related because it has to do with how stupid my country is:

I hate my country.

I hope you know the high opinion I have of you. It is an opinion I have held for a long time... in spite of the fact that you read the wrong Richard Dawkins book.

I also understand (and appreciate) the desire for an intellectual tumbling routine. But there is a reason why I didn't snag the above thread...

I think your impulse was wise and exactly right to not "use them for my own pleasure."

In that spirit I would like to see this list taken down and deleted. It's not just the potty-mouth title but also the confrontational tone. It may not be attacking anyone's personal beliefs... but it also might be. And the list seems designed to do little more than that.

I absolutely agree with you when you say that you "don't want to generate controversy over something I don't care about, don't know about... or argue a position I don't actually agree with... just to get things going. If I come up with a good topic that I don't think would bother Jim and his intentions with Listology too much, I'll post."

I have no problem, zero, with you introducing a favourite Italian critic of yours to this site . But the metastasization of the Fab Four v. Piero "debate" is a very mixed bag. And by "very mixed" I mean "mostly awful." It's not your responsibility (or fault) but I am asking someone I regard highly to avoid piling dry kindling next to a fire.

That person of high regard happens to be you.

It's just a mild-mannered suggestion but, if you think it would help, I'll pay you.

I do celebrate your high opinion of me. I would only ever want it to be an accurate one. I'm sure it is, given your encyclopedic knowledge of my posts.

(I think I have read all of Dawkins' books now. The God Delusion is his worst, and was not a major player in my conversion to atheism.)

What a great quote you nabbed! I love how the internet forces me to be accountable to who I am and who I have been. In-person dialogue has many advantages, but archivability is a major advantage for online conversation.

I've happily changed the title and tone of my list to be less confrontational and more accurate. I think I got carried away because I know "bullshit" will spark a greater response than "questionable truth."

But I'm hesitant to delete the list. It has already sparked much good discussion that is not just fun, but also useful - to me and others.

And I don't know what to think about personal beliefs and feelings.

My internal reality is this: When I am confronted, contradicted, or ridiculed, it is always a positive experience. I am challenged to either defend, suspend, or abandon my beliefs. I am usually not attached to any particular outcome; only the one that most likely reflects reality, given the limited data before me.

But I know this is not the internal reality of many people. Many people, if their beliefs are confronted, feel attacked as a person. Some aren't comfortable with the idea that they might be wrong, but they also don't have the skill to defend their position. I imagine this causes lots of cognitive dissonance and discomfort. Sometimes the easiest relief for them is anger, directed toward me. Maybe my words haunt them, and pressure their insecurity.

This is what it seems like, based on my conversations with other people (in person, not so much online), and with my fading memories of life before critical thinking.

So, what to do?

I'm biased toward confrontation because that is such a positive experience for me, and even led to some of the best decisions in my life.

But that's not all. As a Christian, I remember hearing a person needed to hear about Jesus at least 7 times, in different ways, before she would consider converting. (I am 88% certain this was among the 97% of statistics that are made up on the spot.) So, the purpose of "witnessing" wasn't to convert, but to "plant the seeds" or "water the seeds."

My intention here is to "water the seeds" of critical thought in people. I doubt anyone will see "Gods" on my bullshit list, click the link, follow a few more links, then abandon Yahweh. But maybe my list will challenge some people to think in new ways about their own beliefs, and about how other people have un-evidenced beliefs they are convinced of because of their upbringing and experiences. Etc.

I suppose I could also link to some generic critical thinking resources that teach the skills without confronting any particular hot-button issues.

But even with these good intentions, some people will not be helped. They will feel confronted or ridiculed, and due to thin skin or narrow-mindedness or insecurity or inexposure to critical thinking (BTW, all these describe me not too long ago, through no fault of my own, and I do not attribute fault to anyone else they describe), there response is not:

"Meh, this guy just wants to get a rise out of people. I wonder what's new on YouTube?"


"Hmmm, maybe I should investigate my beliefs."


"Ah, but I wonder if this guy has considered these reasons..."


"This guy uses strong language, but he may have a point. Ooh, that reminds me, I want to go see Doug Stanhope tonight."

but instead:

"Gah! I'm so offended! I'm so hurt! How dare he attack my beliefs?"

See, being offended and hurt is their choice, just as it is my choice to not be offended or hurt when people confront my beliefs.

Yet, I have some influence. I can decrease the chances of people feeling hurt or offended, for example by changing the title and intro as I have.

So, it's a complicated situation.

But let's complicate it further.

Even if the list is good to keep, does it belong on this site? Lots of people here seem to be enjoying the dialogue, and the dialogue might not continue if I move it somewhere else. But it doesn't seem to fit Jim's intentions for his site. Then again, thousands of lists on Listology don't.

Or, I could delete the list as a personal favor to you.

Decisions, decisions!

I just read the Ismael Hossein-Zadeh article and it got my blood boiling. Depending on how the Tour goes tomorrow I'll try to tell you why.

Until then here is Alan Greenspan, former overseer of the American economy.

Yes, Virginia. There really is an oil war.

The author of that article, Ismael Hossein-Zadeh, seems determined to demonstrate the flawed logic of a war for oil. To do this he attacks Peak Oil theory. This straw man is propped up in order to connect the War on Iraq with the needs of "special interests," specifically Israel. In trying to do this he ignores a range of possibilities, evidence and interpretations. Those he does not ignore he twists and bends towards the conclusion of his thesis. This involves what I'm going to call "intellectual accommodations" but what others might call specious. By the end of the article Hossein-Zadeh has, to his own satisfaction, proved the folly of waging a war based on "Blood for Oil." I am in now way convinced by his evidence or reasoning.

It is regrettable that Hossein-Zadeh chooses to deal with the wisdom of Oil Wars while ignoring the possibility that oil might be the poorly-reasoned motivation for such wars. In laying out the stupidity of Oil Wars he leaves the question of their reality untouched. The flawed, failed argument he makes has little bearing on what he set out to "prove."

Hossein-Zadeh sets up his argument by conflating the motives of the United States government and those of Big Oil, the large multi-national oil companies. He further muddies the water by taking the rhetoric of the antiwar movement as an attempt at a logical proof and then labels two of the movement's positions as "diametrically opposed." Finally he takes the motivations of the United States, fused with Big Oil, and attributes them to Peak Oil theory. I subscribe to the theory of the twinned interests and operations of governments and multi-nationals but Hossein-Zadeh has made no case for this and he employs or discards this assumption at his own convenience.

The argument that cheap oil and big oil profits (by Big Oil) are mutually exclusive is laughable on its face. Leaving aside the real world of record oil profits can anyone claim that if the price of oil had dropped from $100 per barrel (earlier this year) to $75 a barrel that Big Oil would have dropped the prices of its products by an equivalent 25%... really? I'd argue the opposite: the higher the price of oil goes the higher the profit margins for Big Oil.

As I (poorly) understand it, Peak Oil theory posits that there will come a turning point where oil production will peak (hence the name) and then begin to irreversibly fall. I don't think that POt attaches a specific date to this turnaround or even how long the "peak" will last before the decline starts. To support his critique and connect it to present-day geopolitics Hossein-Zadeh cites email correspondence with a "reporter/researcher" that I have never heard of.

Putting aside the undiscovered talent who provides the underpinning for his argument, Hossein-Zadeh appears to misrepresent POt. Relying on my vast Wikipedic knowledge (ie no real knowledge) POt has successfully predicted the rise/decline cycle in the U.S. POt also appears to be at least the lens through which the oil supply predicted if not the actual basis for those predictions. In attributing geopolitical motives to the proponents of POt Hossein-Zadeh dismisses adherents to the theory who fail to conform to his characterization of them. "The theory is being promoted not only by war profiteers and proponents of an unbridled domestic oil exploration and extraction, especially in Alaska, but also by some apparently antiwar liberals such as Michael T. Klare and James H. Kunstler" [emphasis added] This is worse than cherry-picking facts to fit your argument. It is rejecting facts which fail to fit your argument.

I am curious as to why you give credit both to Mr. Hossein-Zadeh, who explicitly denigrates Alaskan domestic oil exploration (or the need for it), and to proponents of drilling for oil in ANWAR.

Not once in the half-dozen paragraphs attacking the the weaknesses that he sees in POt does Hossein-Zadeh make the case that the government of the United States holds the same views, let alone operates by them. He lays the blame for high oil prices at the feet of "Wall Street financial giants" which some people, myself included, might argue are the real policy-makers in America. Hossein-Zadeh does not makes that case here. The case that he seems to be making is that the world's financial markets are mistaken in believing that the future price of oil will be even higher. This would confirm the fact that the world economy (and governments) are operating under the very tenets of Peak Oil theory. Whether or not the feared shortages are real, whether or not POt is accurate, has little to do with the motivating factor for military intervention in the Middle East.

Perhaps the biggest hole in Hossein-Zadeh's reasoning is his attack on the belief "that access to energy resources requires direct control of oil fields and/or oil producing countries." Even if he is able to convincingly make the case against this "dubious assumption" it makes no claim that governments and Big Oil are free from this assumption. But the case he makes is laughable. He claims that the U.S. would be hesitant to destabilize a region over which they hold "significant influence." This is less than two decades after Gulf War I, a quarter century after the Iran-Iraq War, forty years after the death of the Shah... He says, "Let us assume for a moment that the neoconservative militarists are sincere in their alleged desire to bring about democratic rule and representational government in the Middle East" Intended or not, that is hilarious.

In his analysis Hossein-Zadeh states that "access to oil no longer requires control of oil fields or oil producers." It is hard to be more wrong and he cannot be more wrong when it comes to the core beliefs of George W. Bush's administration. This is akin to mistaking standing in a gas line with owning a gas station. Later he engages in some hypothetical numerical analysis of the effect of oil prices on the producers themselves. Aside from having negligible impact on the philosophy of an occupying army, he seems to undercut his initial argument against the rhetoric of the anti-War movement. And to then claim that the administration being demonstrated against can't be motivated by oil because "George W. Bush was never more than an unsuccessful petty oil prospector and Dick Cheney headed a company, the notorious Halliburton, that sold (and still sells) services to oil companies and the Pentagon." seems only to prove that Ismael Hossein-Zadeh will clutch at any and all straws to "support" his theory no matter how ridiculous.

As an aside, Hossein-Zadeh's observation that the American President "Bush was never more than an unsuccessful petty oil prospector" combined with his assumption of competence in policy decisions is sad and confusing. That the rest of the world holds the same attitude is tragic and baffling. The fact that the vast majority of the Americans public seems unaware of the first condition and are only now disabusing themselves of the second is... worse.

So we come to the crux of the matter, as I see it, in the case that Ismael Hossein-Zadeh is putting forth. First he claims that for every dollar of oil extracted from the Gulf the Pentagon takes five dollars from the Federal budget. I find the fact that there are no dollar totals attached to this statement puzzling. I suspect that he is comparing U.S. oil imports to the total Pentagon budget. The fact that the United States spends more on "defense" (not all of it directly purposed for oil) than the rest of the world's governments combined would make this "clear indication that the claim that the U.S. military presence in the Middle East is due to oil consideration is a fraud" less convincing.

What makes it truly unconvincing is the fact that the evidence he cites is sourced in note [26]... there is no note [26]. Perhaps that email was caught by the spam filter and went directly into the trash. If it didn't it certainly should have.

What is sourced, in note [27], is the direct quote from deputy Secretary of Defense and architect of the War, Paul Wolfowitz. When asked why the United States invaded Iraq and not North Korea Wolfowitz responded, "he most important difference... is that economically, we just had no choice... the country swims on a sea of oil." Yet Hossein-Zadeh claims that this is more evidence as to how the military is using oil as a pretext, as a coverup, for its true motivations. After this world-turned-upside-down bit of reasoning he claims that "there is strong evidence—some of which presented in the preceding pages." There may be strong evidence but it has not been presented here.

Wolfowitz "and his cohorts" are said to have stymied all efforts at normalization through the think tanks of AEI, PNAC, and JINSA. JINSA is the Jewish Institute for National Security. Paul Wolfowitz is Jewish. And there you have it. In the very next paragraph Hossein-Zadeh claims that these think tanks are acting in concert with military lobbyists to promote the interests of the alliance between "the military-industrial complex and the pro-Israel lobby."

The country of Israel may be guilty of this and many other things, the War on Iraq may have other motivations beside oil, Ismael Hossein-Zadeh might have convincing evidence of both... but certainly not here.

And almost certainly nowhere else.

It is easy to call b******t and point to an article on the internets agreeing with you. I am curious as to what you saw in that article that piqued your interest. It is more difficult to make the case yourself. It is more important to make sure of your case before you credit it. It is vital.

If Riccardo Ricco wins the Tour his victory started today.