1. An absolutely fascinating write-up from Jesse Bering over at Scientific American of the recent ‘free will’-related research, charmingly titled “Scientists Say Free Will Probably Doesn’t Exist, but Urge ‘Don’t Stop Believing!'”. Stay away if you have an allergy to Hitler-based arguments… Perhaps the most ground-breaking finding is (ht BZ): “when people believe—or are led to believe—that free will is just an illusion, they tend to become more antisocial.” Hmmm…

2.  The new slate of Pixar films has been announced, and Monsters Inc is getting a sequel in 2012! Our Gospel According To Pixar series, debuted at the conference, will be available for purchase soon.

3.  In the wish-they-didn’t-give-us-so-many-reasons-to-be-cynical department, there’s an obituary for the Emerging Church on World right now (ht TB). In a recent sermon Emergent dude Rob Bell “recounts how Mars Hill started out to be a different kind of church without the baggage of watered-down “seeker” churches and the religious legalism of “traditional” churches. In a moment of wonderful honesty Bell admitted that Mars Hill had become a big institution that wounded people in similar ways as the churches many Gen-Xers swore they would not mimic.

4.  For those of you who still have the energy for the whole New Atheism debate, in his NY Times blog entry “Notes On the New Atheists”, Ross Douthat quotes at length David Bentley Hart’s excellent First Things article “Believe It Or Not” (ht RF).

5.  Speaking of the NY Times, how about that Friday Night Lights article?! They may get a couple key details wrong (Landry-wise), but it was very nice to see the best show on television right now get some respect (that’s right, Don Draper). It’s also been nice to see Breaking Bad give it a run for its money this season… A few excerpts:

“Like the book and the movie, [Friday Night Lights] is only nominally about football. Friday night games are a narrative device, but the guts of the show juxtapose the soaring joys and hurts of family with the brutal, intimate charms of small-town life. While the network schedules are full of cops, doctors and lawyers, the people on “Friday Night Lights” teach, deliver pizza, sell cars, or if they aren’t so lucky, collect welfare.

“We are dealing in really primal stuff here,” [Connie Britton, aka Tami Taylor] said, “winning and losing, being a mother, what it’s like to be a husband trying to protect his family: these are very fundamental human experiences anyone can relate to. We look for small moments that mean a lot, that are resonant, and when that works, I think people really connect with it.”

6.  On another TV note, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant have just announced their next small-screen project, “Life’s Too Short”. A mockumentary-styled sitcom about Warwick Davis, aka Willow. I was dismayed to hear about all the negative reviews of Cemetery Junction

7.  Also over at The A/V Club is a great feature on most-desired comebacks. Among those mentioned are Nicholas Cage, Bill Watterson, Sylvester Stallone, Prince, Han Solo, Jeff Mangum and… our beloved Whit Stillman. Who would you like to see make a comeback?

P.S.  Conference recordings coming soon and very soon…