Dr. Joan Bushwell's Chimpanzee Refuge

Some Semi-Random Observations

The question has been raised as to whether or not organized religious fervor will eventually win out over the Enlightenment ideals of humanistic atheism, and if it does, the consequence of America devolving into a theocratic hegemony. On their side, the humanist-atheist camp operates from a position of empiricism and rationality which appears to be a huge plus. On the other hand, as I see it, the main practical-structural difference between the devoutly religious and atheists like me is that atheists do not have weekly meetings or door-to-door membership drives.

Researchers at IBM and the Georgia Institute of Technology have announced the construction of a new microprocessor running at 350 GHz at room temperature (500 GHz when super cooled to within a few degrees of absolute zero). In the last year or so there has been talk in some electronics circles that current silicon processing technology has just about “run out of room” for improvement. This breakthrough represents an increase of two orders of magnitude over current microprocessor speeds (typical PCs clock at around 3 GHz these days). Personally, it’s comforting to know that eventually it’ll only take me twice as long to delete the 100 fold increase in spam that this processor will allow to be generated.

The other day I was reading George Carlin’s book Brain Droppings. He had a bit in there about people’s names. For example, would WW II have turned out differently if we’d been fighting Skip Hitler? That got me to thinking…

Would we have entered WW II if our chief ally was Doogie Churchill? In a fight between Skip Hitler and Doogie Churchill, would it all be over the moment Bronco Roosevelt showed up?

Would the Civil War have been different if we were led by Leslie Lincoln and the president of the confederacy was Scooter Davis? Would the national character of our country be a little different if our first president was Roscoe Washington? I think it would.

What if men such as Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Paine, and Benjamin Franklin had first names like Nick, Dick, and Louie? Or the same names as the Marx brothers? “Groucho Hamilton I’d like you to meet Zeppo Paine, and over here is Chico Franklin.”

Did Thomas Jefferson’s mother call him Tommy? “Tommy Jefferson you get in this house this minute!” What would it be like if he ran into an old friend while he was president? “Hey, Tommy, how’s it hanging? How’s the wife? How’s things at Monticello?”

What if everyone called Napoleon “Tremaine”?

Imagine the great physicist Neils Bohr sitting home one Sunday morning reading the paper when he gets a phone call from an associate: “Dr. Bohr, I’ve just read the most fascinating paper on Special Relativity. You must see it!” Bohr says “Who’s the author?” The associate replies “Lenny Einstein”. “Yeah, riiiight,” says Bohr, “I’ll call you tomorrow, I’m kinda busy with the comics right now.”

Would the Roman citizenry have been as terrorized if they knew they were about to be invaded by Timmy the Hun? “Run for your lives! Timmy the Hun is coming!”
“Hmmmm, Timmy the Hun you say? I’m gonna make a sandwich- I’ll catch up with you later.”

Comments

  1. #1 Amy P.
    June 20, 2006

    And just look at the fate of Richard “Tricky Dick” Nixon.

  2. #2 PZ Myers
    June 20, 2006

    But I think you’ve got it backwards! It’s the person who imbues the name with its perceived qualities. After all, “Albert” is kind of a funny, old-fogeyish name, and if Einstein had been named “Leonard” we’d be associating “Lenny” with math aptitude now.

  3. #3 HP
    June 20, 2006

    Of course, you know, it was the great philosopher Strong Bad who once described Niels Bohr as “the most aptly named of all Danish physicists.

  4. #4 Jim
    June 20, 2006

    Two things:

    First, regarding the names and the reference to “Tricky Dicky”, perhaps this is why some folks have a bit of a problem with the “Plame-gate” affair, that is, Scooter Libby. How can you take a grown man seriously with a name like “Scooter”? I expect him to be holding a skateboard in one hand and picking his nose with the other. (Maybe he does, I don’t know.)

    Second, upon further reflection I think that the organizational weakness of atheists could be turned around into a soft-sell positive. For example, I think I’m going to hang a sign on my office door that reads “Become an atheist: No book to buy, no weekly meetings or dues, and no required activities. Plus, you get to fornicate guilt-free.” I think that could be a winner.

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