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

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Cleaning Out the Tabs Day

Good Thing it Was a Controlled Experiment
"In a controlled experiment carried out by Alcoa Aluminium, 20 kilos (44 pounds) of molten aluminium was allowed to react with 20 litres of water, along with a small quantity of rust. 'The explosion destroyed the entire laboratory and left a crater 30 metres (100 feet) in diameter,' [scientist Christian] Simensen said."
--Agence France-Presse, Sept. 21
(h/t WSJ Best of the Web)
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Faster Than the Eye Can See
A neutrino has been detected exceeding the speed limit.  They know this because they caught the license plate number and clocked it with a radar gun.  That anything in Italy has been found exceeding the speed limit will no doubt shock anyone who has never visited Italy.  The announcement has created Consternation in Official Circles.  However, good Aristotelian Reasoning would have predicted this. 
Major.  Nothing can travel faster than light.
minor.  Neutrinos, being massless, are practically nothing.
Synth.  Therefore, practically, neutrinos can travel faster than light.
See?  It's all logical™ an' stuff.  
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A Great Deal of the Internet Explained by Science!™

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Out of Africa Replaced 
by Out and Out and Out of Africa.  It seems that Australians and New Guineans, closely related by DNA, came out of Africa before Asians and Europeans split apart.  This is news?  There is a string of black people running along the southern edge of Asia, surviving in pockets here and there in s.India, Indo-China, etc. suggesting a canoe-going culture shore-hopping from Africa to Australia and into Melanesia.  The mystery is how the Australians forgot how to make sea-going canoes. 
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How Do You Know When the Priest Scandal Has Run Its Course?
Easy.  When a conference in Baltimore of "researchers, scholars, mental health practitioners, and minor-attracted persons [sic] who have an interest in critical issues surrounding the entry for pedophilia in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) of the American Psychiatric Association"  meets to examine “ways in which minor-attracted persons [sic] can be involved in the DSM 5 revision process” and how the popular perceptions of pedophiles can be reframed to encourage tolerance.

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goes all trash talk over statements in re Galileo.  Warning: bad language.  Thony is really upset over this:
In the context of his times, Galileo was a liberal. He was a fearless explorer of new knowledge, as well as a puckish challenger of assumed wisdom.
Chris Mooney, Galileo Was a Liberal.
Mr. Mooney was upset over Rick Perry's invocation of SSt. Galileo.  Thony condemns the overreaction as the "worst case of presentism" he has seen.  The modern terms "liberal" and "conservative" had no meaning in Early Modern Italy.  That is, there was no socio-political position that could be comparable to them.  Then he deconstructs the hagiography: 
Was Galileo being fearless in his Il Saggiatore as he used polemic and invective to pulverise the Jesuit astronomer Grassi who using empirical observation and mathematics had given the correct explanation of the nature of comets whereas Galileo was defending the incorrect Aristotelian explanation? Was Galileo being fearless when he deliberately ignored the best astronomical work on the heliocentric hypothesis available at the time, that of Kepler, because it might have stolen his glory? Was Galileo being fearless when he refused to acknowledge the superiority of the astronomical or Keplerian telescope because he had not invented/marketed it? Was Galileo being fearless when he propagated his totally anti-scientific theory of the tides as the highpoint of his Dialogo?
There's more at the link. 
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Hillel Ofek asks Why the Arabic World Turned Away From Science
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Another Winner Heard From
When an internet atheist proposed a challenge to reconcile theology of original sin with the genetics of polygenism, the TOF responded with Adam and Eve and Ted and Alice (a movie reference perhaps lost on the ynglings among us) in hopes of winning the contest prize.  More on this in another post.  However, the philosopher Kenneth Kemp answered preemptively by writing a paper on the subject even before the problem was posed, using a distinction first made in 1964.  The TOF is pleased to take note that his take on the matter was kinda the same as ours: i.e., the distinction between biologically human and metaphysically human.  Does this mean we is a great thinker?  Don't ask my wife. 
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On the Cause of Corruption in Popular Governments
James Chastek comments on the tendency of popular governments to expand the dispersion of goodies to as many clients as possible (what Jerry Pournelle called "the Iron Law") and the counter-tendency to discover ways to game the system for personal benefit
There is a fundamental desire in popular government to ensure fair play and equal access, and this requires regulation. There nevertheless remains a perpetual genius for
  1. extending the scope of what will count as fair play and equal access (the gradual extension of rights) and 
  2. discovering ways to cut off persons from a fair share and equal access (new modes of fraud, monopoly, or impinging on the ever expanding notion of right). 
Both give rise to diverse sorts of regulation to ensure justice and punish crime, and the perpetual genius to extend equality or outwit the system lead to more and more regulation. At some point, the good intentions of the regulators amass to the point that no reasonable person can be expected to make his way through the labyrinth of regulation, and at this point the government is no longer a popular government.  [minor formatting changes]
He notes that in Western society we think anyone can run for office and anyone can open a business; but:
I doubt that I’ve ever met anybody who could tell me the concrete steps one would have to take to run for a congressional seat or open up a McDonald’s.
When the system is too complicated for the average person to navigate, it is no longer a popular government (in the root sense of "popular" not in the TV ratings sense). 
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Western Society Enters the "How Were We Supposed to Know?" Phase
Fight club for kids, in which adults gather to watch kids beat each other up. 
The price of in-vitro fertilization, in which the consequences are counted in sick children. 

4 comments:

  1. re Galileo

    As I've said a time or two, more and more it seems utterly fitting that the 'Science!' fetishists should make of him their Patron Saint.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Fr. Z reports on the Pope visiting a German pilgrimage shrine, built on the site of a village destroyed by plague.

    http://wdtprs.com/blog/2011/09/benedict-xvi-before-the-pieta-of-etzelsbach/

    ReplyDelete
  3. re end of the abuse scandal.

    "Any stick to bash the Church with" is the only explanation I have been able to come up with for our major media outlets' willingness to trumpet the Church's failure to punish behavior they (the media) don't think is wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  4. "Any stick to bash the Church with"

    But, of course. How else to make sense of their equally strident shrieking over the RCC’s decision on how to prevent (most) potential future occurrences of homosexual priests’ abuse of teenaged boys.

    ReplyDelete