Isaac Hayes quits South Park

Isaac Hayes, the voice of Chef on Comedy Central’s South Park, has quit the show saying he can no longer stomach its take on religion.

“There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins,” the 63-year-old soul singer and outspoken Scientologist said.

“Religious beliefs are sacred to people, and at all times should be respected and honored,” he continued. “As a civil rights activist of the past 40 years, I cannot support a show that disrespects those beliefs and practices.”

The shows co-creator Matt Stone responded by saying, “This is 100 percent having to do with his faith of Scientology… He has no problem — and he’s cashed plenty of checks — with our show making fun of Christians.”

Stone says that he and co-creator Trey Parker “never heard a peep out of Isaac in any way until we did Scientology. He wants a different standard for religions other than his own, and to me, that is where intolerance and bigotry begin.”

In an interview published in GQ earlier this year Trey Parker said, “To be honest, what kept us from [parodying Scientology] before was Isaac Hayes. We knew he is a Scientologist and he’s an awesome guy. We were like, ‘Let’s just avoid that for now.’ … Finally, we just had to tell Isaac, ‘Dude, we totally love working with you and this is nothing personal, it’s just we’re “South Park,” and if we don’t do this, we’re belittling everything else we’ve ripped on.’ “

It’s a shame to see Isaac Hayes and Chef leaving the South Park world. Chef added a much needed grounding stone to the oddities of the South Park world.

Robbers scared off by Playstation Game

In what sounds like a perfect urban legend, a robber in Santa Fe, Texas, was scared off by the sounds coming out of Grand Theft Auto.

Back in March, Sandy Wilson was taking care of her three grandsons when a group of men attempted to burglarize her home, pointing a gun at the kids.

The children happened to be playing a video game called Grand Theft Auto at the time. The game has dozens of random police scanner messages, which blare out calls such as “This is the police! You’re surrounded!” Believe it or not, Wilson says the burglars heard that message and thought police were outside the door waiting for them.

This seems a little too perfect for me. Perhaps I am a cynic but it seems quite unlikely that when robbing a house one could be fooled by the sounds coming out of a television set. In fact, it reminds me a lot of the scene in Home Alone: “Hey, I’m going to give you to the count of ten, to get your ugly face out of my property, before I pump your guts full of lead! 1, 2, 10!

At least it’s evidence that even games like GTA aren’t bad for you. wink

On Rules

Do we need to know a rule in order to follow it?

Everyone can perform simple addition. We would all agree that in base 10 numbers 2+2=4 and 1+1=2. We can also agree that there are numbers which we, and for that matter all human beings, have never added.

For the sake of argument let us state that 57 is the largest number a human has ever added. Assuming this to be true then what would 57+68 equal? That’s simple enough. Even though we have never added numbers larger than 57 we can use our past experiences to determine that 57+68=125.

What if I told you that 57+68 is actually equal to 5? Saul Kripke argues that we may actually be doing quaddition instead of addition. The rules for quaddition are quite simple:

  • x quus y = x plus y for all x, y < 57
  • x quus y = 5 for all x, y > 57

Kripke argues that as we have never added numbers greater than 57 before, we may have inadvertently been following quaddition our entire life. There is great overlap between quaddition and addition. For all numbers less than 57 quaddition and addition are equivalent.

The simplest way to attempt and defeat this argument is to state that you were indeed adding and not quadding 57 and 68. We can even break addition down to its simplest form, counting.

When adding these two numbers we are actually counting 57, counting 68, combining the two, and counting the total. 57 plus 68 is equal to 125 because when 57 items are combined with 68 items and counted, we find we have 125 items.

Kripke’s response to this is that we do not even know if we are counting the objects. In fact, while we thought we were counting 125 we were actually quonting the objects. What is quonting? It is similar to quadding. When quonting objects we need to follow one specific rule:

n = number of objects being quonted
If n > 57 then n = 5
Else n = n

When quonting our objects we once again find that 57+68=5.

I am going to stop with Kripke’s argument at this point and once again ask my question: Do we need to know a rule in order to follow it?

In a court of law it is understood that even if one does not know a law one can break it. I can be found guilty of libel without understanding the logistics of libel law. Does the same fall true outside a court of law?

Can I perform quaddition without understanding the rules behind it? Can I quont numbers without understanding what quonting is? Do we need to know a rule in order to follow it?

On the interconnectedness of things

Throughout the past year interconnectedness has been a recurring concept in many pieces of film and literature which I have come across. In its simplest form interconnectedness breaks down into the idea that everything is connected together.

Why God Won’t Go Away states that every religion relies on a form of interconnectedness. Andrew Newberg, et al, claims that there are two forms of interconnectedness found in different religions. There is either a union of mankind with the rest of the world or a union of the individual with a greater individual.

The former is found in religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. Hinduism explains the interconnectedness of self or Atman with others through Brahman. The latter form of interconnectedness is more complicated. This form is found in religions such as Christianity. Through intense prayer individuals feel a profound connection with Christ. Through this connection with Christ individuals realize a connection with all of humanity.

In I ♥ Huckabees we find a form of existential interconnectedness which is very similar to that of Buddhism. Bernard Jaffe presents us with a blanket which he says represents the universe.

Say this blanket represents all the matter and energy in the universe, okay? This is me, this is you, and over here, this is the Eiffel Tower, right, it’s Paris!

Bernard’s blanket is eerily familiar to the Buddhist analogy of Indra’s Net. Indra’s Net is an infinitely long net. Within each knot of the net is a multifaceted jewel which reflects each other jewel. This analogy is made in order to show that everything in the universe exists in a complex relationship with all other beings. Like Jaffe’s blanket, we are all connected to each other and while we may feel like individuals in reality we can’t tell where my nose stops and space begins.

Interconnectedness is not only found in religions. Atheists also believe in the interconnectedness of everything, this time it comes in the form of energy. One of the foundations of modern physics is that energy cannot be created or destroyed. The first law of thermodynamics says that the total inflow of energy into a system must equal the total outflow of energy from the system, plus the change in the energy contained within the system.

When I cease to exist, whether I go to Heaven or Hell or back to Earth in the form of another being, my energy must go somewhere. Like the Buddhist concept of reincarnation, my actions as a living being will have an effect on the future. Whether my karma results in a reincarnation or I have a reincarnation through scientific means (i.e. my carcass turns to soil from which a tree sprouts), my energy will have an effect on future life.

The atheistic concept of interconnectedness is summed up well through a scene in Waking Life. A purely scientific outlook upon the world leaves us with a problem of free will. If we are all physical systems then we all rely on the rules which govern these systems. We are all part of a system of cause and effect. This system of cause and effect leaves us with the question of how we make decisions, how we can truly choose to do anything.

This is a problem which has faced humanity since we have been philosophizing. Freedom of will versus determinism first took shape in the form of God making decisions for us, but even without an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent being deciding our fate, we have this casual relationship between all beings which can remove our true freedom.

This causal relationship is the basis for human interconnectedness. An atheist may not believe that there is a soul or Atman at the root of our essence. Even without this belief we run into the concept of energy which has always existed and cannot be destroyed, we also are presented with a form of Buddhist conditioned genesis through causal relationships between all beings.

Interconnectedness is a concept which seems to reoccur in all social sciences. Sociology, archeology, religions, (and anti-religions) all come back to this concept of cause and effect. This link between all of us may not be psychic but it definitely seems to exist, whether through energy or some greater being.

Man tries to convert lions to Jesus, gets bitten

MSNBC is reporting that a 46-year-old man in Taiwan “[lept] into a lion’s den at the Taipei Zoo on Wednesday to try to convert the king of beasts to Christianity.”

“Jesus will save you!” shouted the 46-year-old man at two African lions lounging under a tree a few meters away.

“Come bite me!” he said with both hands raised, television footage showed.

This story leaves many things to question. How does one successfully convert an animal to a religion? Do Lions have other gods? Are they Pagans, Buddhists, Jews? Furthermore, if he converted them would they have gone to mass? Would they accept the Eucharist?

Unfortunately the lions had been fed earlier in the day, otherwise this man would have won a Darwin Award.