Saturday, November 28, 2009

If it's Thanksgiving, this Must be Belgium

So these last two years, I've had a 2-day offsite leadership meeting on Thanksgiving and the day after. That means spending both days in a conference room with 20 or so colleagues from around Europe. And actually, it kind of works for me. Over the years Thanksgiving became my favorite holiday in the U.S. -- just low key hanging out with friends and family. And it lacks the pressure and hype of of Christmas. And so if I can't be home with y'all, then it's good to be busy and ... well ... nobody enjoys strategic planning more than me. It also helps that this year's session was in such a beautiful setting: a château in Jodoigne outside Brussels (to the right).

And then I had the bright idea of staying another night in the Brussels city center after the meeting broke up. This wasn't a great plan. La Grande Place is lovely and all but it was cold, rainy, and a little lonely - especially after the full days beforehand. Still, it's cool to see how different cities celebrate. In Brussels, they wire up L'Hôtel de Ville with high-tech lights, play Christmas music through a large P.A. system, and do a synchronized sort of a thingy. Sort of like laser-Floyd except with Enya-esque Christmas music. It was pretty cool and hundreds of people turned out - even in the bad weather.

And of course, on the Rumsfeldian map this is Old Europe. So that means politically incorrect Christmas displays are still in-bounds. Hence, the traditional nativity scene. Is it just me (and the aforementioned loneliness) or does Mary look a Victoria's Secret mannequin?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Book Recommendation

OK yeah ... so I finished this book last week on a flight from Somewhere to Somewhere. Actually, I bought it twice because I lost the first copy on a flight from Somewhere Else to Somewhere Else. I recommend it.

True, Richard Dawkins has a real problem with creationists or "history deniers" as he calls them. And that animosity gets the best of him sometimes. But still, it's an excellent modern recap of the evolution model. I've been looking for a book like this for years: a consolidated, up-to-date, readable summary of the evidence for evolution. This pretty much fits the bill. I especially appreciated the chapter on intelligent design and why, in his opinion, it's an illusion.

So my view is that God exists and evolution, while not fully understood, is undeniable. And I don't have any problem simultaneously holding both ideas to be true. Good night.