Online reading group and book discussion forum
View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Fri Oct 09, 2015 3:47 am

<< Week of October 09, 2015 >>
Friday Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday
9 Day Month

10 Day Month

11 Day Month

12 Day Month

13 Day Month

14 Day Month

15 Day Month

Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 7 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average. 
April 2005 - Rationally Speaking - "Useless feats" 
Author Message
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership Hall of Fame Owner
Diamond Contributor 3

Joined: May 2002
Posts: 14900
Location: Florida
Thanks: 2626
Thanked: 1000 times in 796 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)
Highscores: 7

Post April 2005 - Rationally Speaking - "Useless feats"
Below you'll find the April 2005 Rationally Speaking e-Column entitled, "Useless feats."

N. 60, April 2005

Useless feats

I may be going out on a limb here, but I just don't get it. I have just watched the ABC News coverage of millionaire Steve Fosset's solo flight around the world without refueling a plane. To put it bluntly: who cares? In the past few years we have seen people getting to the North Pole, around the world, on top of Mount Everest (all for the nth time), while abiding to a variety of artificial restrictions, just to make it a little bit interesting.

While these actions are billed by the media as stunts of human ingenuity, endurance, and courage, they are largely entertainment. Dangerous entertainment, but entertainment nonetheless. What really made history and made us feel part of a species that could achieve incredible feats was the first time that somebody

Thu Apr 21, 2005 11:13 am
Profile Email WWW

Post Re: April 2005 - Rationally Speaking - "Useless feats&q
I've always felt this way about the circus. What is the purpose of perfecting the art of swallowing fire, or swords? Or hanging upside down by one ankle while swinging far above the heads of sane people? Or lying on your back twirling plates on your feet? It really is a big 'so what'.

OK, and while I'm at it, what's the purpose of collecting money for you to walk a lot of miles, or run a lot of miles or bike a lot of miles, after which you give the money to charity? Why the effort? Why not just collect the money, and give it to charity? Why the intervening pointless athletic activity?

Or athletic contests of any type, for that matter. The Olympics have gotten us to thinking that athletic endeavors are important, but really, they serve no purpose other than as a measure of personal achievement and entertainment for the rest of us.

Is it due to a built-in desire to achieve....something? And the media simply glommed on to a good thing as they saw it?

I think we are witness to so much pointless feats and activities in our lives that we just don't really think of them as such any more. We just say "Oh, wow. Look at that." and go on with our lives.

Marti in Mexico

Thu Apr 21, 2005 3:06 pm

Post Re: April 2005 - Rationally Speaking - "Useless feats&a
Awfully serious from the contributor of the dog's balls joke, which I shared with my running partners on our daily noon hour run. They were entertained both by the joke and by the fact that I actually remembered a joke for more than a few minutes.

Why engage in sports? Well I am never going to be Joan Benoit Samuelson or Greta Weiss, but that does not keep me from racing the guy ahead of me. What do I get out of it? A very low resting heart rate, the ability to eat donuts when I want, and daily companionship from other crazy people like me.

I also admit to engaging in mildly risky activities such as spelunking, diving, etc. I know that I will never be first to climb a mountain, explore a cave, visit a reef, but that doesn't bother me at all because each adventure is a first for me.

Fri Apr 22, 2005 12:02 pm

Post Re: April 2005 - Rationally Speaking - "Useless feats&a
One could question the worth of scientific or philosophical inquiry in the same manner as the pursuit of "entertainment." Why fill our heads with the facts of the universe for the worms ultimately to eat? What is the substantive value of such pursuits except for enjoyment or self-aggrandizement?

Fri Apr 22, 2005 1:33 pm
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership Hall of Fame Owner
Diamond Contributor 3

Joined: May 2002
Posts: 14900
Location: Florida
Thanks: 2626
Thanked: 1000 times in 796 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)
Highscores: 7

Post Re: April 2005 - Rationally Speaking - "Useless feats&a
When you really think about it there isn't a purpose to anything we do. Everyone has to decide what they value and the reasons why. Some people thrive on adrenaline, while others think that taking risks is just foolish.

We're all different, but one thing of which I'm thoroughly convinced is that there is absolutely no inherent purpose or value to anything at all. None. Hats off to those people with the balls to jump out of airplanes, dive into underwater caves, or race cars at over 300mph. They're living life like there is no tomorrow, and for some of them - there won't be.

The upside to being so damn intelligent, as a species, is that we have enormous free time in which to think about or even do crazy things. The downside to being the most intelligent species on this rock is that we actually spend enormous amounts of time thinking about and doing crazy things. We're always after that rush of excitement to make life worth living. In the past we might have received it from hunting down our next meal, or avoiding being another animals next meal. Now we have conquered just about everything nature has to offer, so we create our own obstacles just for shits and giggles.

Meeting life's challenges is a part of what makes us human, and is a part of how we made it from the primordial soup to landing on the moon. When I see my fellow humans attempting to climb mountains or dive to the bottom of undersea trenches...I applaud them. Whatever it is that is driving them to take such risks is of survival benefit for our entire species. I'll be worried when we all sit on our asses all day and watch TV (or read books!). ;)


Sun Apr 24, 2005 9:50 pm
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Laughs at Einstein

Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 433
Thanks: 0
Thanked: 0 time in 0 post
Gender: None specified

Post Re: April 2005 - Rationally Speaking - "Useless feats&a
I agree with Marti -- why do we watch this stuff? As a Canadian and minor hockey nut, this last year has shown me, and many others, that watching hockey (the NHL) is not necessary to our lives. I miss it as a reason to go hang out at the pub on a Saturday night to watch a game and drink beer with other fans, but Tessa is right, I could very well just go out and play hockey myself.

So the question is: Why do we watch instead of do? (sports, music, movies, books, etc.) We're consumers instead of creators -- why? because we're lazy. Because we have developed a cult of perfection -- don't do it unless you can do it well. Because...?

Karaoke is a good example. In Korea and Japan, people sing. Good, bad, or indifferent in talent, they all sing. Anecdote: I was sitting in a friend's car in Korea, driving down the road, and he pops in a tape, saying "This is me last week at a norae-bang (karaoke in Korean)." But in Canada and the USA, if we want to do karaoke, we've either got to be drunk (very drunk), or actually good singers. My partner loves karaoke, because he can actually sing. I like singing, but am not good at it, so don't do it publicly.


"All beings are the owners of their deeds, the heirs to their deeds."

Tue Apr 26, 2005 3:09 pm

Post Challenges?
"Meeting life's challenges is a part of what makes us human."

Voluntarily swallowing swords or bungee jumping off a bridge are not exactly 'meeting life's challenges.' Rescuing someone stuck on the roof of their house in the middle of raging water as a result of a storm, or searching for victims of an earthquake, or rebuilding a destroyed village....that's meeting life's challenges.

But I guess if we talk about useless feats, perhaps that does include everything, which brings us to that ultimate useless activity, a discussion of the meaning of life. When everyone knows the meaning of life is chocolate.

Marti in Mexico

Tue Apr 26, 2005 7:27 pm
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 7 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average. 

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:

Recent Posts 
• Organic: Poems and Love Poems Inspired by Nature (Free from October 9 to 10)

Fri Oct 09, 2015 1:01 am


• Organic: Poems and Love Poems Inspired by Nature (Free from October 9 to 10)

Fri Oct 09, 2015 12:55 am


• Wherein Bob makes a case of evolution vs. creationism

Thu Oct 08, 2015 11:52 pm

brother bob

• Robert Wright: Naturalistic Buddhism as religion

Thu Oct 08, 2015 9:50 pm


• Upcoming Book "Come on MAN, Speak English to ME about GOD"

Thu Oct 08, 2015 9:39 pm

brother bob

• James Halat - new author of gay fiction

Thu Oct 08, 2015 8:25 pm


• Can any of you identify this celebrity?

Thu Oct 08, 2015 8:08 pm


• WANTED: Book suggestions for our next NON-FICTION book discussion!

Thu Oct 08, 2015 6:50 pm


• WANTED: Book suggestions for our next FICTION book discussion!

Thu Oct 08, 2015 5:26 pm


• Like Raindrops on Water - A Love Letter to the World

Thu Oct 08, 2015 4:01 pm


• Ch. 1: The Case for Good Thinking ("Good Thinking" - by Guy P. Harrison)

Thu Oct 08, 2015 3:21 pm


• It is National Poetry Day - Here is my choice:

Thu Oct 08, 2015 1:22 pm


• How about reading the new memoir Unraveling My Father's Suicide? by Kathleen Laplante

Wed Oct 07, 2015 9:02 pm


• No surprises here: Prisoners beat Harvard's elite debating team in competition.

Wed Oct 07, 2015 8:52 pm

Chris OConnor

• Please "Check In" here if you plan to read and discuss "Good Thinking" with us!

Wed Oct 07, 2015 11:48 am

Chris OConnor Links 
Forum Rules & Tips
Frequently Asked Questions
BBCode Explained
Info for Authors & Publishers
Featured Book Suggestions
Author Interview Transcripts
Be a Book Discussion Leader!

Love to talk about books but don't have time for our book discussion forums? For casual book talk join us on Facebook.

Featured Books


The game isn't over yet so I've still got hope.  0%  [0]
I believe they can now I've read the book.  0%  [0]
Yes, I know things can change for the better.  0%  [0]
Seems razor thin whether we can pull it off.  0%  [0]
Total votes: 0

Books by New Authors


Of all time: Chris OConnor (14900), Interbane (6561), DWill (5268), stahrwe (4823), ant (4646), Robert Tulip (4549), geo (3740), Mr. Pessimistic (3542), johnson1010 (3426), Penelope (3153), Saffron (2898), Suzanne (2521), Frank 013 (2021), youkrst (1858), Dissident Heart (1790), bleachededen (1680), President Camacho (1637), Dexter (1623), Ophelia (1543), tat tvam asi (1298)

Of the last 24 hrs: geo (12), brother bob (9), Dexter (4), Chris OConnor (3), ant (3), Interbane (3), maugnesium (2), LanDroid (1), RileyAChurchill (1), youkrst (1), Penelope (1), Robert Tulip (1), jimjimtk (1), JannDP (1), Taylor (1) is a free book discussion group or online reading group or book club. We read and talk about both fiction and non-fiction books as a group. We host live author chats where booktalk members can interact with and interview authors. We give away free books to our members in book giveaway contests. Our booktalks are open to everybody who enjoys talking about books. Our book forums include book reviews, author interviews and book resources for readers and book lovers. Discussing books is our passion. We're a literature forum, or reading forum. Register a free book club account today! Suggest nonfiction and fiction books. Authors and publishers are welcome to advertise their books or ask for an author chat or author interview.



The Martian - by Andy WeirGood Thinking - by Guy P. HarrisonThe Post-American World: Release 2.0 - by Fareed ZakariaGo Set a Watchman: A Novel - by Harper LeeFlowers for Algernon - by Daniel KeyesGoing Clear - by Lawrence WrightKing Henry IV, Part 1 - by William ShakespeareAtheist Mind, Humanist Heart - by Lex Bayer and John FigdorSense and Goodness Without God - by Richard CarrierFrankenstein - by Mary ShelleyThe Big Questions - by Simon BlackburnScience Was Born of Christianity - by Stacy TrasancosThe Happiness Hypothesis - by Jonathan HaidtA Game of Thrones - by George R. R. MartinTempesta's Dream - by Vincent LoCocoWhy Nations Fail - by Daron Acemoglu and James RobinsonThe Drowning Girl - Caitlin R. KiernanThe Consolations of the Forest - by Sylvain TessonThe Complete Heretic's Guide to Western Religion: The Mormons - by David FitzgeraldA Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man - by James JoyceThe Divine Comedy - by Dante AlighieriThe Magic of Reality - by Richard DawkinsDubliners - by James JoyceMy Name Is Red - by Orhan PamukThe World Until Yesterday - by Jared DiamondThe Man Who Was Thursday - by by G. K. ChestertonThe Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven PinkerLord Jim by Joseph ConradThe Hobbit by J. R. R. TolkienThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas AdamsAtlas Shrugged by Ayn RandThinking, Fast and Slow - by Daniel KahnemanThe Righteous Mind - by Jonathan HaidtWorld War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max BrooksMoby Dick: or, the Whale by Herman MelvilleA Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer EganLost Memory of Skin: A Novel by Russell BanksThe Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas S. KuhnHobbes: Leviathan by Thomas HobbesThe House of the Spirits - by Isabel AllendeArguably: Essays by Christopher HitchensThe Falls: A Novel (P.S.) by Joyce Carol OatesChrist in Egypt by D.M. MurdockThe Glass Bead Game: A Novel by Hermann HesseA Devil's Chaplain by Richard DawkinsThe Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph CampbellThe Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor DostoyevskyThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark TwainThe Moral Landscape by Sam HarrisThe Decameron by Giovanni BoccaccioThe Road by Cormac McCarthyThe Grand Design by Stephen HawkingThe Evolution of God by Robert WrightThe Tin Drum by Gunter GrassGood Omens by Neil GaimanPredictably Irrational by Dan ArielyThe Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel by Haruki MurakamiALONE: Orphaned on the Ocean by Richard Logan & Tere Duperrault FassbenderDon Quixote by Miguel De CervantesMusicophilia by Oliver SacksDiary of a Madman and Other Stories by Nikolai GogolThe Passion of the Western Mind by Richard TarnasThe Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le GuinThe Genius of the Beast by Howard BloomAlice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll Empire of Illusion by Chris HedgesThe Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner The Extended Phenotype by Richard DawkinsSmoke and Mirrors by Neil GaimanThe Selfish Gene by Richard DawkinsWhen Good Thinking Goes Bad by Todd C. RinioloHouse of Leaves by Mark Z. DanielewskiAmerican Gods: A Novel by Neil GaimanPrimates and Philosophers by Frans de WaalThe Enormous Room by E.E. CummingsThe Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeGod Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher HitchensThe Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama Paradise Lost by John Milton Bad Money by Kevin PhillipsThe Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson BurnettGodless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists by Dan BarkerThe Things They Carried by Tim O'BrienThe Limits of Power by Andrew BacevichLolita by Vladimir NabokovOrlando by Virginia Woolf On Being Certain by Robert A. Burton50 reasons people give for believing in a god by Guy P. HarrisonWalden: Or, Life in the Woods by Henry David ThoreauExile and the Kingdom by Albert CamusOur Inner Ape by Frans de WaalYour Inner Fish by Neil ShubinNo Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthyThe Age of American Unreason by Susan JacobyTen Theories of Human Nature by Leslie Stevenson & David HabermanHeart of Darkness by Joseph ConradThe Stuff of Thought by Stephen PinkerA Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled HosseiniThe Lucifer Effect by Philip ZimbardoResponsibility and Judgment by Hannah ArendtInterventions by Noam ChomskyGodless in America by George A. RickerReligious Expression and the American Constitution by Franklyn S. HaimanDeep Economy by Phil McKibbenThe God Delusion by Richard DawkinsThe Third Chimpanzee by Jared DiamondThe Woman in the Dunes by Abe KoboEvolution vs. Creationism by Eugenie C. ScottThe Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanI, Claudius by Robert GravesBreaking The Spell by Daniel C. DennettA Peace to End All Peace by David FromkinThe Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerThe End of Faith by Sam HarrisEnder's Game by Orson Scott CardThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark HaddonValue and Virtue in a Godless Universe by Erik J. WielenbergThe March by E. L DoctorowThe Ethical Brain by Michael GazzanigaFreethinkers: A History of American Secularism by Susan JacobyCollapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared DiamondThe Battle for God by Karen ArmstrongThe Future of Life by Edward O. WilsonWhat is Good? by A. C. GraylingCivilization and Its Enemies by Lee HarrisPale Blue Dot by Carl SaganHow We Believe: Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God by Michael ShermerLooking for Spinoza by Antonio DamasioLies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al FrankenThe Red Queen by Matt RidleyThe Blank Slate by Stephen PinkerUnweaving the Rainbow by Richard DawkinsAtheism: A Reader edited by S.T. JoshiGlobal Brain by Howard BloomThe Lucifer Principle by Howard BloomGuns, Germs and Steel by Jared DiamondThe Demon-Haunted World by Carl SaganBury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee BrownFuture Shock by Alvin Toffler

Banned Book ListOur SalesMassimo Pigliucci Rationally SpeakingOnline Reading GroupTop 10 Atheism BooksFACTS Book Selections

Copyright © 2002-2015. All rights reserved.
Display Pagerank