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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

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Clearing the Tabs

An informative potpourri today, O Faithful Reader.



1. Darwin Catholic reports on Slate's denigration of women and its desire that they be more like men, which is the only truly worthy aspiration. Motherhood, it seems, detracts from productivity in business, a cog in which machine is or should be the goal of all. The delight, as Brandon points out in the comments, is to see Slate acting as a shill for corporate interests.

2. Meanwhile, Wired lets us know that those people should not be allowed to "breed." One supposes that "everything old is new again" and the search for the superman continues. Why are they called "progressives" if they simply repeat century-old tropes? What judgment Darwin would make of this!!

3. An intriguing new blog in which issues of climate science are debated among professionals. Each "issue" starts with a statement of the problem followed by three to five "guest blogs" by scientists on one side or another. Best of all, the comments are in two buckets: one for scientists and the other for everyone else. That way the loonies can more easily be ignored. The linked issue regards the possible imminent occurrence of a new Maunder minimum.

4. James Bowman comments on the continuing vandalism of works of art by the barbarians of the New Age. Artists of the past must and will be brought into line with current goodthink.

5. The estimable John C. Wright points us to a video in which a woman walks along the streets of NYC and is accosted by all the usual suspects.This is a parody of another video by feminists which triggered an internecine battle between those wishing to expose the harassment of women and those concerned that all of the harassers shown were POCs.

6. Atheist John Gray on "The Closed Mind of Richard Dawkins." Gray's point is that Dawkins is not a very scientifical fellow and approaches atheism with the unfortunate pulpit-pounding of a religious zealot. Of course, that Dawkins is a Calvinist preacher has long been obvious. What is genetic determinism but predestination in a lab coat.

7. Our old buddy Aristotle comes in for some kudos from unlikely sources. Despite getting many facts wrong -- supposing our translations are accurate as to the meanings of the terms then in use -- his methodology was sound, and is used to this day. So, he should get a retro-Nobel Prize; or at least a reappraisal of his physics. Aristotelian physics, the author contends "is a correct and non-intuitive approximation of Newtonian physics in the suitable domain (motion in fluids), in the same technical sense in which Newton theory is an approximation of Einstein's theory."

8. Speaking of which, Hassing once gave a lecture examining the revolutionary nature of classical physics versus both the Aristotelian physics that preceded it and the quantum physics that supplanted it. He discusses the various shaky foundations that underlie the Newtonian world-view.

9. In line with which is a paper by Nancy Cartwright on How the Laws of Physics Lie.

7 comments:

  1. I really wish #2 startled me.

    I can't even get up a decent case of "shocked" for the Catholic doctors in Liberia that figured out they'd been given vaccine laced with stuff to make the immune system identify pregnancy as an infection, and attack it accordingly.

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    1. Wasn't it Kenya? The Kenyan bishops put a statement out, I thought.

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    2. Here is a good article looking at the claims made by the Kenyan bishops. It appears they were mistaken about the lab results.
      http://rationalcatholicblog.wordpress.com/2014/11/12/does-the-kenyan-unicef-tetanus-vaccine-contain-hcg-and-make-women-infertile/

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    3. It was Kenya indeed (latest bishop statement: http://www.kccb.or.ke/home/news-2/press-statement-by-the-kenya-conference-of-catholic-bishops/ ), but RCB only offers ways it could be mistaken, and in fact made a major mistake that was corrected in the comments.

      Also does not account for the thing that made the doctors and Bishops look hard at the vaccine in the first place-- the way that it was being administered like the prior sterilization drug, instead of like tetanus, and is very ready to assume bad testing practices while assuming that no pressure will be applied to the labs that did the testing.

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  2. I've long thought that the "necessity" of contraception and abortion was an economic one, and Slate helpfully confirms this. Weird things happens when we view humans as meant to serve the economy instead of the other way around.

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  3. on #5: one thing to note is that a lot of this is cultural... my family is from Venezuela, and my dad talked about wolf whistles and the like as if it were a normal thing for guys to do (and he is no misogynist). Women in those areas often do what sensible people would do, either ignore it or on occasion back sass something stupid a guy might have said (and often the guy expects it)... in either case the act is not taken seriously, neither by the girl nor the guy. Now if a woman is ethnically different, and walking in (more run down) neighborhoods, she is bound to attract more attention. This happened to me when I, who am rather pale was in the slums of DR, largely full of really dark (pretty much black) people, everything from stares to marriage proposals. But it also happened to darker skinned friends of mine in Europe. To it all I say lolz. Boys are pretty stupid sometimes... why give things like this any emotional power?

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  4. Reading through the linked stuff in 7 - 9. Interesting. I had not come across Cartwright before, and am not through reading her essays yet, but the idea seems to be that a sort of inverse relationship exists between explanations that account for phenomena, which are validated by the behavior of the phenomena but make no general claims, and purely theoretical explanations which claim to be more universal but, because they are not backed up by specific experimental results, have no claim to be true. Someone needs to introduce Dr. Cartwright to the concept of metaphysics. Unfortunately, as an analytic philosopher, she's probably immune.

    I'd only add that .this approach not only deals nicely with the weird and logically impossible claim that certain sub-atomic phenomena are *known* to be uncaused because the current phenomenological explanations are probabilistic, which is nice, but also with any broader claims of analytic philosophy in general: clearly, such general claims that the material world is all that exists is merely assumed in phenomenological explanations; it is without content when generalized to a world view. If I say: the material world is all that there is, I can fool myself into thinking that scientific observation confirms this as a phenomenological explanation, but, on Cartwright's view, I can't assert it as true in general, divorced from the individual scientific observations. The possibility that philosophy can be any more than a thorough laying out of what science explains on a phenomenological level is thereby killed off - which may be fine with the analytic philosophy crowd, but is pretty thin gruel.

    But maybe that's just me.

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