"When an old and distinguished person speaks to you, listen to him carefully and with respect – but do not believe him. Never put your trust in anything but your own intellect. Your elder, no matter whether he has gray hair or lost his hair, no matter whether he is a Nobel Laureate, may be wrong... So you must always be skeptical – always think for yourself." --Linus Pauling


Clearing some debris out of the draft folder...

When I was a boy, I thought I grew older I'd have the feeling of actually being smarter. You know, like there'd be some sort of mental click and I'd realize that a new plateau had been reached or it would be like a power up in a video game. "I am twelve years old now. That last level was pretty tough. That bonus round must be around here somewhere!"

As near as I can figure, what getting smarter really feels like is every year getting a more accurate picture of my own ignorance in relation to the world around me. Which is fine I guess, but it lacks a certain oomph! that I cherished in the "power up theory" years.

No, I don't know where I was going with that either.

So, how was Christmas for everyone? Mine, strangely, was pretty great. My cousin Anthony invited me down to San Diego to spend the holiday with his family and as it turns out, much more of my extended family than I was expecting.

I took the train down on the 24th where they were having a traditional Italian Christmas Eve fish feast. This was the first I knew of the tradition as my father doesn't care much for fish and so it made infrequent appearances at the dinner table. There were about twenty people there.

On Christmas Anthony and I went out for a three mile walk. We talked about politics, the state of the world, religion, etc. He said something I found interesting, the gist of which was that in his experience, people with a religious aspect to their lives tended to have more wisdom than those that did not. As he put it, they were better at recognizing evil.

I told him that my experience of the world was vastly different to his. People who are very religious tend to see evil everywhere and tend to lack the wisdom necessary to discern the difference between Real Evil (censorship, war profiteering, violence to another human being) and Perceived Evil (homosexuality, stem cell research; the depiction of violence in a movie, tv show, video game, etc.)It's important to note that Anthony is not very religious himself. He was just pointing out something he'd noticed. So, something for me to think about.

After our walk, he urged me to jump into the freezing swimming pool. His wife Antonia told me I didn't have to and that her husband might not even follow me in (he is tricksy sometimes), but I would not be swayed.

Anthony gave me a swimsuit to put on, and I jumped in and swam the length of the pool. As my testicles shrank to the size of peanuts I distinctly remember thinking that the water was not as cold as I'd feared. Anthony did follow me in, by the way.

The day after Christmas I uh... got to see the Doctor Who special "The Christmas Invasion" featuring the new 10th Doctor David Tennant (recently seen as Barty Crouch Jr. in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire).

It was pure geeked out bliss I tell you. I think Tennant is going to be great. The 21st Century is Really Fucking Cool sometimes.