Barney's Rubble

The 'Net Doesn't Know Everything!

Some answers are much more than a few mouse clicks away.

I like to bet, not exactly Las Vegas high-roller style, but little wagers that prove I'm smarter than the person I'm betting against. I've learned two things. Google can settle a bet tout de suite, and when I bet against my best girl, I always lose (at least I can tell myself I planned to buy her dinner anyway).

As a parent I get asked a lot of questions, and when I don't know the answer (which is pretty much always) I go straight to Google, or maybe Wikipedia. The most obscure answers are always two or three clicks away.

I'm not one to criticize today's youth, complaining about video games and TV rotting their brains, with no sense of literature and art -- that old chestnut. These new forms of media make today's youth smarter, and most of 'em work way harder than I did back in school.

The Internet gives instant gratification for all our curious youth's questions. The only problem (for young and old) is that we overly rely on the 'Net.

Here's what I mean. I was driving to Guitar Center with my two sons and they got all metaphysical, as kids who listen to too much '60s rock often do.

David, my 13-year-old, started talking about how the weight of the soul is 21 grams, then musing that "everything that moves has energy, and energy can't be created or destroyed. What's leaving your body, that weight you lose, might be energy. Religion may see it as the soul; scientists see it as kinetic energy. Who knows what happens to that energy or the soul after you die? Maybe it floats around or travels to a higher state of existence, which would explain an afterlife."

I'm too old and weak-minded to think so profoundly, so I asked a question I had as a teen. Everyone with a near-death experience reports the same thing -- a soothing white light, maybe seeing folks you've lost. But is this experience heaven or just the mind protecting you, keeping you comfortable?

And if this is a transition of consciousness to another state, does your initial state of consciousness change the outcome? If you drive a car and are run over, is that experience different than being in a coma and then succumbing? David, hanging in the backseat of the Volvo, said "Google it!" But I knew all along the answer could only be found one place -- Yahoo!

Dilbert Stole My Ziggy
I am a shallow man, and this month I spent far more time thinking about Dilbert than the afterlife. That's because Dilbert's creator somehow managed to take all the credit for the idea of Bill Gates for President. So when did Adams come up with this blockbuster? Nov. 19, 2006, a mere six weeks after the Barney's Rubble column ran titled, "Bill for President."

Adams may or may not be funnier (he gets paid a lot more!), but yours truly is clearly quicker on the draw.

Send your thoughts my way -- I'm at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.

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