Reviews

A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Against Gravity


The question has been raised in the comm box regarding Aquinas' proof from motion as to how an immaterial First Mover can affect anything material.  This asks for a physical explanation of a metaphysical relation.  The difficulty arises from Cartesianism which, if we may be unfair to Descartes for a moment, holds that life (the "soul" or anima) is a substance in itself.  This led to all sorts of problems now known as the "traditional" problems of philosophy, but are actually the problems of getting Descartes before the horse. 

Recall that "motion" to a pre-Cartesian means any change of form, and not only the form of location, the existence of a First Mover follows for all essentially ordered chains of motion.  An essentially ordered chain is one in which the entities in the chain have no power whatever to move things unless something prior is moving them, right now.  (This is independent of such physical questions of "simultaneity" or of "beginning to be moved.")  For example, imagine a series of gears, with one gear moving the next gear.  Somewhere there must be a first gear moving the lot; otherwise, none of the gears would be moving at all.  Similarly, in a train of rail cars, each car is pulled along by the car in front; but there must be a first car - the locomotive - that imparts the motion to the others.  There cannot be an infinitely long train of cars, because none of the cars itself has an engine. 

Once the First Mover is established, we realize that it must itself be unmoved.  If it were moved by another, it would not be the first mover.  And this leads directly to its immateriality, since anything material is in motion [change], coming into being, growing, changing, passing out of being. 

IOW, the immateriality of the First Mover is a logical consequence if it being the First Mover.  As to how it imparts motion to the physical, who knows?  There are many things that are purely physical that we don't yet understand. 

Which brings us to a question of great gravity; viz., gravity. 


Friday, January 29, 2010

Finally!

The cover art for Up Jim River is up on Amazon. 

BEHOLD!

The Awesomeness of the Geek Hierarchy
Only part of it fits on this page.  The full page is at www.ifanboy.com/images/ifanboy/geekchartbig.gif


Thursday, January 28, 2010

What if the Earth Had Rings Like Saturn?


Now This is Kool


(H/T: Spider Robinson)
Beware the man of one book
The Feast of Thomas Aquinas

Today is the feast of Thomas Aquinas!  Do something reasonable in his honor!>

Some Thomistic Quotes:
(I've added sources where I know them, but did not chase them down.  If anyone knows the source text, let me know.)

1. Beware the man of one book.

2. It is better to illuminate than merely to shine, to deliver to others contemplated truths than merely to contemplate.

3. By nature all men are equal in liberty, but not in other endowments.
(Not even Thomas Jefferson said it better....) 

4. If to provide itself with a king belongs to the right of a given multitude, it is not unjust that the king be deposed or have his power reduced by that same multitude if, becoming a tyrant, he abuses his royal power.
(On Kingship, I:6)  (Not even Thomas Jefferson said it better....) 

5. We marvel at something when, seeing an effect, we do not know the cause.  And since one and the same cause is at times known to certain people and not to others, it happens that some marvel and some do not. 
(On the truth of the catholic faith against the gentiles)

6. Since Holy Scripture can be explained in a multiplicity of senses, one should adhere to a particular explanation only in such measure as to be ready to abandon it, if it be proved with certainty to be false; lest Holy Scripture be exposed to the ridicule of unbelievers, and obstacles be placed to their believing.
(Summa theologica, Part I, Q. 68, art. 1) 

7. Nature is nothing but the plan of some art, namely a divine one, put into things themselves, by which those things move towards a concrete end: as if the man who builds up a ship could give to the pieces of wood that they could move by themselves to produce the form of the ship.
(Commentary on Physics II.8, lecture 14, no. 268) 

8. Sciences are differentiated according to the various means through which knowledge is obtained. For the astronomer and the physicist both may prove the same conclusion—that the earth, for instance, is round: the astronomer by means of mathematics (i.e., abstracting from matter), but the physicist by means of matter itself.
(Summa Theologiae, Part I, Q. 1, art. 1)

9. The suppositions that these astronomers have invented need not necessarily be true; for perhaps the phenomena of the stars are explicable on some other plan not yet discovered by men
llorum tamen suppositiones quas adinvenerunt, non est necessarium esse veras: licet enim, talibus suppositionibus factis, apparentia salvarentur, non tamen oportet dicere has suppositiones esse veras; quia forte secundum aliquem alium modum, nondum ab hominibus comprehensum, apparentia circa stellas salvantur.
(De coelo [On the heavens], II, lect. 17)

10. The theory of eccentrics and epicycles is considered as established, because thereby the sensible appearances of the heavenly movements can be explained; not, however, as if this proof were sufficient, forasmuch as some other theory might explain them.
Sicut in astrologia ponitur ratio excentricorum et epicyclorum ex hoc quod, hac positione facta, possunt salvari apparentia sensibilia circa motus caelestes, non tamen ratio haec est sufficienter probans, quia etiam forte alia positione facta salvari possent.
(Summa theologica, I, Q.32, art.1)

11. Practical sciences proceed by building up; theoretical sciences by resolving into components.
Necessarium est enim in qualibet operativa scientia ut procedatur modo compositivo, e contrario autem in scientia speculativa necesse est ut procedatur modo resolutivo, resolvendo composita in principia simplicia.
(Sententia libri Ethicorum [Commentary on the Nicomachean Ethics], Bk. I, chap. 3, no. 4)

A miscellany of quotes:
Some of the following seem a bit too colloquial, but the Internet cannot be wrong, can it? 

Good can exist without evil, whereas evil cannot exist without good.

A man has free choice to the extent that he is rational.

All the efforts of the human mind cannot exhaust the essence of a single fly.

If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever.

Because of the diverse conditions of humans, it happens that some acts are virtuous to some people, as appropriate and suitable to them, while the same acts are immoral for others, as inappropriate to them.

Friendship is the source of the greatest pleasures, and without friends even the most agreeable pursuits become tedious.

How is it they live in such harmony the billions of stars - when most men can barely go a minute without declaring war in their minds about someone they know.

It is requisite for the relaxation of the mind that we make use, from time to time, of playful deeds and jokes.

Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep, a bath and a glass of wine.

To bear with patience wrongs done to oneself is a mark of perfection, but to bear with patience wrongs done to someone else is a mark of imperfection and even of actual sin.

It is possible to demonstrate God's existence, although not a priori, yet a posteriori from some work of His more surely known to us.


Which Brings Us to Today's Bonus Feature

The First Proof of the Existence of God
(The Cosmological Argument)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

In the Lion's Mouth

Fair Yuts'ga
An excerpt from In the Lion's Mouth, a sketch of the world of Yuts'ga, whose name derives from the Cantonese for "Second Earth." 

There is an introductory poem, followed by the sketch:

VII A Role, in the Hay

Fair Yuts’ga, whose star once spied from Earth
In nameless twinkle, whose seas once swam
With proto-life prolific, joined in metazoic joy,
Her skies well-crossed by many streams, convulsed
At times by strife to seize them, have now in gentle peace
Reposed these slumb’rous years, to dream… of what? 
Here, too, a crucial bottleneck where messages import
Must criss and cross their way along the stars,
A place where proper hands may stay or hasten
Intelligence sore-needed elsewhere by the foe. 
And so have Shadows dimmed Fair Yuts’ga
In stealth to play the game upon the razor’s edge;
Life sweetly-tasted 'long the borderlands of death. 
They circle, gath’ring ever closer, one upon another
Until the shades envelop all in that fatal commonwealth
In which we all find membership.  Ah, Yuts’ga!
Frontier no more, her ancient Commonwealth forgot,
Her star-crossed skies now routes to other worlds,
An incubator once, now into the grave be hurled!
#

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Something Fishy

  
He's Dead Jim
The 18-inch-long Atlantic salmon lay perfectly still for its brain scan. Emotional pictures —a triumphant young girl just out of a somersault, a distressed waiter who had just dropped a plate — flashed in front of the fish as a scientist read the standard instruction script aloud. The hulking machine clunked and whirred, capturing minute changes in the salmon’s brain as it assessed the images. Millions of data points capturing the fluctuations in brain activity streamed into a powerful computer, which performed herculean number crunching, sorting out which data to pay attention to and which to ignore.
By the end of the experiment, neuroscientist Craig Bennett and his colleagues at Dartmouth College could clearly discern in the scan of the salmon’s brain a beautiful, red-hot area of activity that lit up during emotional scenes.
An Atlantic salmon that responded to human emotions would have been an astounding discovery, guaranteeing publication in a top-tier journal and a life of scientific glory for the researchers. Except for one thing. The fish was dead.  
Trawling the Brain
Ah, well, they managed to eliminate that error, but it did bring out one important notion.  Not the emotional lives of fish, but our peculiar tendency to equate things with their material entanglements. 
Less dramatic studies have also called attention to flawed statistical methods in fMRI studies. Some such methods, in fact, practically guarantee that researchers will seem to find exactly what they’re looking for in the tangle of fMRI data.
 In the great layer cake of science

it is always useful to distinguish between what is actually being measured and what that measurement is attributed to.  A famous example is the 1936 Literary Digest sample that measured the stated voting preferences of telephone owners and thought they were measuring the percentage of voters who would actually vote.  In fact, voters who did not own telephones also voted, and voted very differently from the phone owning voters. 

Thursday, January 21, 2010

With Imaginations Running Rampant

in Hollywood, remakes are the order of the day. 

Gritty, noir remakes.  The latest:




More below the fold:

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Galley Slave


Cargo

Got galleys just now for a short story - "Cargo" - to appear in Analog.  Not too bad a story, either. 

A bit nasty, and I flinched.  Still came out okay, though.

What Goes Around


Punditry

A pundit comes from the Hindu word for a virtuoso or expert, as a on the sitar or other instrument.  The honorific is added after the name: so, Flynn pandit. 

As of now, the polls are still open on the MA Senate special election.  I will predict Brown over Coakley by 53-47.  This is estimated by averaging the past ten polls from ten different organizations over the past couple of days; so let's see how that goes. Since the polls obviously include undecideds, I took the 50-44 average and normalized it to a sum of 100%. 

Still unanswered is where the uncounted ballot boxes will be suddenly found so that the recount will show Coakley the winner. 

The amusing thing is that the usual routine for a Senate vacancy is that the governor appoints a replacement who serves out the unexpired term.  This was the MA law until the possibility loomed that a Republican governor might choose a replacement for John Kerry if he won the presidential election.  Then a new law was passed calling for a special election.  It may be unique in the nation, but under the Constitution, the state legislature has the authority to regulate elections within the state.  (Not the state supreme court; an electoral matter is not a judicial matter.)  When Kennedy died, a movement was made to rescind the special election law and go back to the older law, since the Commonwealth now had a safely Democratic governor.  However, this was too raw even for the usual suspects and smacked of change-the-rules-so-we-win, so they gritted their teeth and went for the special election.  There is now a chance that they may come to regret that.

We live in interesting times.

For the record, the past ten polls were:

1/18/10 Politico - Insider Advantage Coakley 43 - Brown 52
1/18/10 ARG Coakley 45 - Brown 52
1/18/10 PJM Coakley 42 - Brown 52
1/18/10 Daily KOS Coakley 48 - Brown 48
1/17/10 InsideMedford-MRG Coakley 41 - Brown 51
1/17/10 PPP Coakley 46 - Brown 51
1/16/10 ARG Coakley 45 - Brown 48
1/15/10 PJM/CrossTarget Coakley 39 - Brown 54
1/14/10 Suffolk University Coakley 46 - Brown 50
1/14/10 R2000 Coakley 49 - Brown 41

Monday, January 18, 2010

For Anyone Once a Kid


Now This is Kool


This is the evolution of Crayola Crayons from the original eight phyla to the many species now available. 

Crayola is now also the official name of the company, and not only of the product.  Formerly, they were Binney and Smith, which I found refreshingly old-fashioned.

It May Be A Conspiracy

The following has some people exercised. E.g., mary-rosh-federal-agent  

Quoting from an academic article by Cass Sunstein, a prominent FOO.
[W]e suggest a distinctive tactic for breaking up the hard core of extremists who supply conspiracy theories: cognitive infiltration of extremist groups, whereby government agents or their allies (acting either virtually or in real space, and either openly or anonymously) will undermine the crippled epistemology of believers by planting doubts about the theories and stylized facts that circulate within such groups, thereby introducing beneficial cognitive diversity. (Page 219.)
-- "Conspiracy Theories: Causes and Cures." (J. Political Philosophy, 7 [2009], pp. 202-227
Cass Sunstein, Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.
Beside showing the low estate to which political philosophy has fallen since Aristotle's day, it raises a peculiar point.
  
To what extent is the response to people convinced that government conspiracies are after them to set up a government conspiracy to go after them?

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Doom of Dilbert


Oh, the Humanity!

How the Greeks Lost Their Groove


On the Origins of Science

An alert reader wrote privately with the following question:

My understanding of Greek thought was that it made real science impossible by attributing "essences" and "natures" to things which acted according to their own powers, rather than according to physical "laws." Hence, ...attempting to experiment on such an object under artificial conditions is useless, because the object will have its nature "disrupted," .... Also, since things (chairs, plants, planets, etc) moved according to their own inner principle, rather than due to some external physical law, there is no need to attempt to "reduce" objects to component parts (atoms, cells, molecules, etc) and therefore no need for subjects like chemistry.

My understanding of the Christian contribution to science was in mechanizing the universe, so that objects behave according to external laws and can be reduced down to its components.

However, ... Edward Feser's The Last Superstition ... argues that the mechanistic worldview of the Enlightenment eliminated formal and final causes ... on philosophical rather than scientific grounds, and that classical theism ... requires a belief in formal and final causes.

...what about Greek thought prevented it from developing science, if there is nothing anti-scientific about viewing the world in terms of essences, powers, final causes, etc.

 
I can only give my own amateur take on this. 

Many folks, like the estimable Mr. Carrier or the less estimable Mr. Walker, would claim that the Greeks did develop science.  But this is based on equivocation on the term science.  It has multiple meanings.  Depending on which meaning you use, you could make Otto Benz or Thomas Edison into scientists.  But in numerous discussions with creationists, partisans of science have time and again emphasized that science is not merely an accumulation of factoids.  A pile of bricks is not a house.  Nor is it a bunch of lucky guesses or rules of thumb worked out by tinkering and by trial-and-error.  Nor is it technology, a point obscured in our day by the fact that science and engineering really are now conflated in many ways.  Whereas previously the ur-scientist sought to explain why what an engineer had done worked, nowadays the engineer often realizes that something might work because the science predicts it. 

One of the genuine contributions of the positivists, although one now strongly objected to by such luminaries as P.Z.Meyers, is what is sometimes called the Layer Cake, but which I will render as a triangle. 


Start from the bottom, at which we find Empirical Experiences.  Things that we see, hear, feel, etc.  Both science and philosophy start here. 
1. Facts.  When these experiences can be operationally measured, they become facts.  In fact, factum est being the participle of "to make," a fact is something made, a "feat."  Measurement creates facts because the same thing measured in two different ways will often produce two different results.  But the experiment is the premier fact-producing machine.  Fact is also used as a courtesy for meticulously described qualitative observations, such as those Darwin made. 
2. Laws.  Regularities or patterns in the facts are called laws, especially when they can be expressed in mathematical terms.  But they can also be expressed verbally.  Newton did so.  The equations associated with his three laws came later - and don't quite correspond to the three laws.  There is no math at all in Darwin. 
3. Physical Theories.  These are stories or narratives in the context of which a specified body of facts "makes sense."  Newton's theory of gravitation "made sense" of all those astronomical observations and, more importantly, made sense of Copernicanism, which until then had been merely ad hoc.  (Ironically, the empirical evidence for Copernicanism was not found until around 1800.)  Given a physical theory, the natural laws may be deduced and the facts predicted.  When facts are predicted beyond those originally used to develop the theory and then are subsequently found, the theory is supported.  The Third Wave positivists regarded theories as neither true nor false, but only useful. 

Now, if we regard the laws as simply the interface between Fact and Theory, we are ready to commence. 

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Definition of Evil



The Winter Wonderland of Canada



The definition of evil is to wipe the smile off a child's face. 
www.ottawacitizen.com/Ottawa+father+caves+agrees+take+down+mega+snow+fort/2432914/story.html

Lesson Learned: You don't need a government.  You only need something that acts like a government, and the Iron Law and mewling fear will get you every time.  "Don't do that!" our caretakers warn us.  "Something might happen!"

+ + +
It would seem that if despotism were to be established among the democratic nations of our days, it might assume a different character; it would be more extensive and more mild; it would degrade men without tormenting them. ....
 

It covers the surface of society with a net-work of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided: men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting 


[I]t is especially dangerous to enslave men in the minor details of life... Subjection in minor affairs breaks out every day and is felt by the whole community indiscriminately.  It does not drive men to resistance, but it crosses them at every turn, till they are led to surrender the exercise of their own will.

-- Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America 

Is That Your Agenda Showing, or Are You Just Happy to See Me?

The Age of Unreason, Redux

Another item from the lovely Richard Carrier in Flynns Pile of Boners. 

I had been making a point about the unruly and riotous behavior and the Late Imperial Egyptians and noted:

In Julian's reign some Christian virgins of Heliopolis refused to surrender themselves for a night of sacred prostitution before their nuptials...."  followed by an account of their gruesome murder.   

Mr. Carrier puts words in my mouth to make me say:

We Should Believe the Bullshit in Martyrologies (NOT!)

The NOT! is his addition.  Come to that, the entire thing is his addition.  (It probably reveals a bit of his personal motivations.)  I made no claim about believing martyrologies, only a claim about the periodic riotousness of the Egyptians of which the deaths both of the virgins of Heliopolis and of the philosopher-mathematician Hypatia were examples.  I also pointed out that, despite such periodic outbreaks, the "tribes" of Alexandria generally got along with one another, or at least co-existed peacefully. 

However, Mr. Carrier produced the following incisive critique:

Since the institution of sacred prostitution has been refuted as a myth (see The Myth of Sacred Prostitution in Antiquity), Flynn appears to have been duped by the wild myths of Christian hagiography. I doubt any such event occurred under Julian. Historians have long known that Christian martyrdom tales are wildly exaggerated and often complete fiction (the absurdities of the stories Flynn relates really ought to have given him a clue). Ironically, this makes Flynn a victim of the very "confirmation bias" he (rightly) accuses Walker of.


So let's see where the story comes from.  And it's not from some hagiography.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Poetry

Seamus Heaney is perhaps the greatest living poet.  I am listening as I write to a CD in which he collaborates with the piper Liam O'Flynn on a series of poems and airs. 

One of his poems contains the single most terrifying line in English poetry.

Midterm Break
Seamus Heaney

I sat all morning in the college sick bay
Counting bells knelling classes to a close,
At two o'clock our neighbors drove me home.

In the porch I met my father crying --
He had always taken funerals in his stride--
And Big Jim Evans saying it was a hard blow.

The baby cooed and laughed and rocked the pram
When I came in, and I was embarrassed
By old men standing up to shake my hand

And tell me they were "sorry for my trouble,"
Whispers informed strangers I was the eldest,
Away at school, as my mother held my hand

In hers and coughed out angry tearless sighs.
At ten o'clock the ambulance arrived
With the corpse, stanched and bandaged by the nurses.

Next morning I went up into the room. Snowdrops
And candles soothed the bedside; I saw him
For the first time in six weeks.  Paler now,

Wearing a poppy bruise on the left temple,
He lay in the four foot box as in a cot.
No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear.

A four foot box, a foot for every year.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Fifteen People Who Run America

OK.  They don't. 

Of the interlocking boards of directors of Fortune 500 corporations, these fifteen people hold more active seats than anyone else - five apiece - but they hardly hold the majority of all board seats!  Still, we might call them the "most connected" board members.  If you want to start a rumor in the halls of Corporate America, whisper it to one of these folks.  You likely never heard of any of them:


  • Linda G. Alvarado Alvarado Construction, Inc.
  • Ursula O. Fairbairn American Express EVP
  • Rozanne L. Ridgway Asst. Secy. of State for Europe, 1985-89
  • Jackie M. Ward CEO of Computer Generation, 1968-2000
  • J. Steven Whisler CEO of Phelps Dodge, 2000-07
  • Peter C. Browning CEO of Sonoco Products, 1998-2000
  • Charles R. Lee CEO of Verizon, 2000-02
  • Ann N. Reese CFO of ITT, 1995-98
  • Robert L. Ryan CFO of Medtronic, 1993-2005
  • John K. Wulff CFO of Union Carbide, 1996-2001
  • William H. Gray Congressman from Pennsylvania, 1979-91
  • Shirley A. Jackson NRC Chairman, 1995-99
  • John C. Pope President and COO of United Airlines, 1992-94
  • Leonard S. Coleman, Jr. President of MLB National League, 1994-99
  • Karen Hastie Williams Retired Partner, Crowell & Moring
Of the fifteen:
5 are black (33%)
5 are Democrats (33%), 3 are Republicans (20%), and the rest don't say. 
7 are female; 8 are male, as close to 50/50 as you can get with 15 people. 

For more fun with America's corporate elite, go here:
Corporate Power Nexus

Stats on Parade

Something is Different This Time

Here is a chart from the New York Times showing the past six recessions.  Each line is a different recession and shows the ratio of the non-farm payroll k months into the recession to the non-farm payroll at the beginning of the recession.  The horizontal axis is number of months into the recession. 




Here's a quick quiz.  Which of these recessions saw massive governmental surgical intervention and which were simply nursed and allowed to heal themselves? 

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Archimedes Palimpsest

I have not forgotten my promise to explain the topology of function spaces.  Part II is coming soon!  Meanwhile....

Some may remember our friend Mr. Walker and his marvelously reductive and tendentious rendering of something he called "The Christian Dark Ages," by which he meant what regular historians call the Middle Ages.  In a curmudgeonly mood, I commented on it with The Age of Unreason.  Eventually, someone kindly informed him of this -- his own site makes no provision for contrary voices thinking freely contrary to his dogma -- and he responded with Mike Flynn Discovers the Dark Ages, where he declared that he he was "not a Middle Age scholar" and then he set about proving it.  This led to a riposte of my own Return of the Age of Unreason Part I and II, before I got bored.  This sort of thing is like goat barbecue.  The more you chew it, the bigger it gets.  Walker makes a one sentence ejaculation of faith; the response is a paragraph or two; but then Walker's next antiphon is a series of paragraphs to each statement, sometimes even to a word or two, each of which garners another paragraph in the harvest, and soon we have something very much like the expansion of the early universe a la Alan Guth's gloss on the Big Bing.  There is a lot of dark energy here, if there is any at all. 

In any case, in the True Spirit of the Web, some dude named Richard Carrier has now weighed in with Flynns Pile of Boners.  Now, first, I am astonished that anyone still uses the term "boner," but aside from that Mr. Carrier really is an historian - at least he has a Ph.D., which is no small potatoes - but he is no less tendentious.  His degree is in ancient history, and so he owns a lot more factoids from that era; but not necessarily of the medieval period.  His tendentiousness takes a novel twist.  He agrees that Walker was full of it.  The Christians, he admits, did not deliberately destroy ancient learning etc.  They simply neglected it because they did not care.  Presumably, they were busy thumping their Bibles and shouting "Do Jesus!" or something. 

This is Kool


All of Britain under snow:


And there, on the left, peeking out from under a cloud, a spot of Green.  Ireland, of course.

Quote of the Day

To debate the truth or falsity of tradition is like asking whether Julia Child's recipe for Bouillabaisse is true or false?
-- Lee Harris, paraphrased

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Security Kabuki

Barn Door, This is Horse.  Horse, This is Barn Door

According to the Associated Press:

The State Department says it has revoked the U.S. visa of the Nigerian man suspected of trying to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight over Detroit on Christmas Day.

Spokesman P.J. Crowley said Tuesday that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's visa was one of several the agency has revoked since the Dec. 25 incident as the result of a review into security procedures ordered by President Barack Obama.

Call me a crazy romantic, but it might have been more helpful to revoke his visa before he tried to blow up an airliner, not 11 days after. 

Of course, having revoked his visa, won't ICE now have to deport him?  Nah, they couldn't be that obtuse, could they?

The Wonderful World of Statistics

Save Lives!  Suck More Lemons!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Bit of Nostalgia

The Feast of St. John Neumann



The fourth bishop of Philadelphia was the founder of many parishes in the 1850s; among them, St. Joseph's Church in Easton PA. 


This was a German church, announced in Der Unabhaengige Demokrat:

Neue Kirche
Naechsten Sonntag, den 3 Oktober, wird der Hochwuerdigste Herr Bischoff aus Philadelphia, John Nep. Neumann den Grundstein zur deutschen Roemisch Kirche, in Süd Easton, Lecha Anhoehe, um 3 Uhr nachmittags feierlich legen.
Rudolph Etthofer
Kath. Pastor
Der Unabhaengige Demokrat (Sept. 30, 1852)

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Day to Remember

Where Were You On....

Senator Gordon Nye would always remember where he was on December 7, 1941. 

The isolationist Senator was addressing an America First rally when he was passed a note informing him of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor,. 

Whereupon he warned his audience against rumors spread by warmongers.
h/t Al Nofi

Some things never change.

Oh! Them Golden Slippers!

Mummers Day! 


The Greater Kensington String Band from today's parade


Greater Overbrook String Band, from a past parade


Duffy String Band (from 2002)

This year's parade was on Channel 17.  Video clips in the right hand margin won't allow embedding, so you have to watch them there.
www.myphl17.com/

For some photos of today's strut:
www.philly.com/philly/entertainment/homepage/2010_Mummers_Parade.html

The Future is Now, or Then, or Something

Fashion in the Year 1960

according to the year 1940


Wearing a dress of the year 1960, Miss Futurama, Betty Crain, presents Harvey D. Gibson, chairman of the board of the New York World's Fair, with the General Motors streamlined car of 1960 in these photos from 1940.



Indiana girls, employees of General Motors, stand by as "Miss Futurama" Betty Crain, of Kokomo, Indiana, presents Harvey D. Gibson, chairman of the Fair Board of Directors with a model of a 1960 streamlined automobile during the celebration of General Motors Day at the World's Fair of 1940 in New York. 
Left to Right -- Evelyn Reason, of Anderson, A.J. Schamehorn, Director of the G.M. exhibit at the Fair, Miss Crain, Mr. Gibson, [unreadable] Edwards, also of Anderson, Evelyn Harger, of Muncie, Myrtle Short, of Indianapolis, and Jean Stines, of Anderson. The girls all wear dresses of glass, rubber, acetate and rayon, known as "Dresses of 1960."


The "girls" are wearing glass dresses?  Hey, why not more close-ups? 

Why does everyone assume people in the future will lose all fashion sense and start wearing wacky clothing?  Hey, wait.  They were talking about the sixties, after all.  Just other kinds of wacky.  Pastels, paisley, bell-bottoms, miniskirts. 

But, dangit, why not a glass miniskirt? 

I feel sorry for [unreadable] Edwards.  What were her parents thinking, to give her such a name!

All this from our friends at Paleofuture.com