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, June 17, 2012

Odds and Ends

Time to clear the tabs once more.  Details below the break.

1. Hot Enough For Ya?
Jan-Erik Solheim (Oslo) has analyzed global temperature model forecasts from 1988 in "Global Climate Changes as Forecast by Goddard Institute for Space Studies," Journal of Geophysical Research.  J. Hansen et al. forecast the expected temperature increase under various scenarios of CO2:
Scenario A : Increase of 1.5% CO2 emissions per year
Scenario B: Approximate constant increase of CO2 emissions after 2000
Scenario C: No increase in CO2 emissions after the year 2000
The actual increase in CO2 after 2000 was 2.5%.  Since this is a little more CO2 than scenario A, we would expect temperatures to be somewhat warmer than the model predictions for scenario A.  Prof. Solheim has compared all three scenarios with the actual temperature record since 1988:
2. Feeling Tired?  Out of Energy? 
The EPA is taking 10% of US energy generation off-line.  That's 10% less energy to Make Stuff with.

3. Attack on First Amendment
Bishop Farrell of the Archdiocese of Dallas complains that various government agencies are trying to stop the Church from practicing her religion.  The governments seem convinced that religion is simply a good personal feeling one gets from attending a ritual or two, and that it has nothing to do with one's actions.  This is what we would expect from Latter Day Nietzscheans.  Consequently, laws have been promulgated to prevent the Church from acting on her beliefs and carrying out her mission

Namely, the call to care for the poor and homeless made no exceptions for immigration status.  Consequently, Catholic charities and shelters and hospitals are being accused of "harboring" undocumented aliens. 
In Alabama, for example, the Catholic bishops, in cooperation with the Episcopal and Methodist bishops of Alabama, filed suit against a law prohibiting “harboring” of undocumented immigrants. Together, they explained that the new “law makes illegal the exercise of our Christian religion which we, as citizens of Alabama, have a right to follow.” 
Why, what did you think it was about?

4. Clueless in Hollywood
Mark Shea makes the intriguing observation that portrayals of Christianity in movies and TV consist of Catholic visuals overlaid with a Protestant sound track.  This is usually because the Catholic visuals really are Way Kool in comparison.  So is Eastern Orthodox, but the media seem unaware that the second largest Christian Church even exists. 

5. Throw the Bums Out!  We Need New Bums!
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports that the massacre in Houla attributed to the Assad regime was actually perpetrated by Sunni rebels against a family in the village who had converted to Shi'ism. But when you have a Template -- plucky freedom fighters vs. tyrannical regime! -- stories must be cut to the Template.  Did we learn nothing from Libya, let alone Egypt?  (PS. the Syrian Orthodox Church is neither Roman Catholic nor Eastern Orthodox, although both Catholic and Orthodox bishops are there.) 

6. Galileo's Convenient Omission
In the Dialogue, Galileo's mouthpiece Salviati contends that if two stars are found optically close to each other but at different distances, the elusive parallax ought to be observable.  But he fails to mention that he found just such an optical double years before and it failed to show any parallax even when his own calculations said it should have.  In fact, his actual evidence at that point supported the Tychonic model!  Simon Marius, mentioned in the link, independently discovered the moons of Jupiter one day after Galileo.  Instead of naming them after members of the Medici family, Marius named them Europa, Ganymede, Callisto, and Io.  Marius initially claimed priority, setting Galileo off on one of his famous flame wars and vilifications.  But the date controversy was because northern Europe was still using the Julian calendar while Italy was using the Gregorian!  Galileo, always ready to assume wicked intentions on the part of others, did not believe in honest errors. 


  1. I guess if you want to believe something, any old source will do.

  2. The comments on the gases report from when I was five make my head hurt. And I thought the aunt that was busy making me terrified I'd get acid burns from the rain was bad....

  3. Isn't Galileo dead enough already? --At this point, I would be happy if the contending sides would just stop flogging his corpse. Continuing to dig him up to argue that original argument wasn't really about what the argument was about but how it was made or the timing or somedamthing, or that he "never would'a been raped if he hadn't worn such a short skirt," is unworthy of you -- and of Rome. Is house arrest really justifiable punishment for being outspoken and ill-mannered, for not bending the knee to Authority? Then we should all stay t'home. Especially Jefferson and Paine and that lot.

    1. History is always preferable to myth.

      And face it, that myth is constantly being dug up in order to flog the corpses of everyone else. Besides, it was Galileo himself who wrote in his letters to Peiresc (22 Feb and 16 March 1635)
      “But my most holy intention, how clearly it would appear if some power would bring to light the slanders, frauds, stratagems, and trickeries that were used eighteen years ago in Rome in order to deceive the authorities! … You have read my writings, and from them you have certainly understood which was the true and real motive that caused, under the lying mask of religion, this war against me..."

      But this is irrelevant to the dishonesty in his writing noted in the odds and ends above. He knew he had seen no parallax in optical doubles when his own calculations said he ought to. He knew there were two tides each day, not the single tide his theory predicted. He knew that the Ptolemaic and Copernican models were both out of contention, but never once in the Dialogue did he refer either to the Tychonic or the Keplerian models. Whether or not he really believed that comets were only emanations in the Earth's atmosphere, he had no call to denounce Grassi's book so vehemently ("piece of asininity," "buffoon," "evil poltroon," "ungrateful," and "You cannot help it… that it was granted to me alone to discover all the new phenomena in the sky and nothing to anybody else.") ostensibly because Grassi had claimed that the comets he had meticulously observed came on highly eccentric orbits from well beyond the moon, but actually because Grassi had written a book on astronomy without once mentioning Galileo.

      The expression "cruisin for a bruisin" does irresistably come to mind.

  4. The real problem with the repeated invocation of Galileo and Darwin is that those are the only two data points with actual evidence that might back up the "all the great scientists have dethroned humanity" claim. The other alleged data points (Malthus, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, etc.) are taken seriously only because they fit the supposed pattern.


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