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

Friday, March 22, 2013


Quote of the Day

Within the educational system, the nature of little boys is met with an urgency, severity and unrelenting violence that rivals any hagiographical story of a desert monk chastising his nature with penance and prayer.  If the educational system attacked concupiscence and the sense appetites with the same intensity that they presently attack masculine irascibility, aggression, and lack of ability to sit still and pay attention, then within five years we would have ten million six year old boys living in the wilderness on the top of fifty foot poles.
-- James Chastek, The American Student

Science Kicks the Creationist Dog

A hard scientist can't complain (out loud) about the stupidity exhibited, for example, in the Women's Studies  department, where students and teachers turn on the lights and fire up their laptops prior to discussing how Science has no valid claim to truth, it is in fact nothing more than a tool of oppression wielded by patriarchal misogynistic elites to keep women in line. So, instead of screaming to high heaven over the traitors to truth in the adjoining buildings,  traitors who have a lot of influence with the administration and don't shy away from publicly destroying the careers of people who challenge them, science fans bravely go after Creationists, who don't do any of that stuff and have no pull and often no presence in their institution.


We think not. 
Areas heaviest in acid rain also have a preponderance of single women over single men.  Perhaps acid rain melts males.  Over the years, the increase in acid rain is associated with an increase in feminism, so that only strengthens the connection. 

Boson the Hood

The Higgs boson we are told is what gives mass to matter.  We are also told, depending on the source, that the Higgs boson has a mass of 125.3 ± 0.4 (stat) ± 0.5 (sys) GeV/c2.  This leads to a fascinating question: what gives the Higgs boson its mass?

The Ghost is the Machine

Soul on the old account of it was the source of self-motion, i.e. a motion where the self was responsible for the action. But responsibility shows us a way in which spiritual beings might act on the body without interacting with it. Interactions are reversible: if a bat hits a ball with X Newtons, then the ball hits the bat with X Newtons. But if the soul chooses to move the hand, it will move, but if I come up to you and shove your hand around it does not force you to choose it.  Therefore we can make sense of spirits acting on matter without interacting with them.
-- James Chastek, The Interaction Problem

Cursed be the Cat

Found on First Things:
 Drawings of two hands point to a blank area with a sketch of a cat peeing on it.  What does this signify?  Why, that a cat has peed upon the book during the night!  The sideways text reads:
“Here is nothing missing, but a cat urinated on this during a certain night. Cursed be the pesty cat that urinated over this book during the night in Deventer and because of it many others [other cats] too. And beware well not to leave open books at night where cats can come.”  
Undoubtedly good advice in any case, but one of those odd reminders that people of other times and places were subject to many of the same frustrations as we.  In case you were wondering how to write the above in Latin, it runs thusly:
Hic non defectus est, sed cattus minxit desuper nocte quadam. Confundatur pessimus cattus qui minxit super librum istum in nocte Daventrie, et consimiliter omnes alii propter illum. Et cavendum valde ne permittantur libri aperti per noctem ubi cattie venire possunt.
And now you know that the Latin verb "to uninate" is mingo, mingere, minxi, minctus (conj. 3)

Camels and Dromedaries, Clem

It seems some folks at Fox are puzzled over how camels could survive in the Canadian High Arctic 3.5 million years ago. 
Hint: maybe it was a lot warmer then? 

Putting Things in Perspective

One often hears of the proverbial wealth of the Vatican.  An interesting comparison was made of the operating budget and the "patrimony" of the Vatican by John L. Allen, Jr.
  • Operating Budget:  (Vatican) $300 million  Harvard ($3.7 billion)
  • Endowment/Patrimony: (Vatican) $1 billion; Harvard ($30.7 billion)

Sometimes the Mask Slips a Little

In the 7 March 2013 issue of the New York Review of Books, in which important people write importantly about important books, Cass Sunstein comments on Against Autonomy: Justifying Coercive Paternalism by Sarah Conly (Cambridge University Press, 206 pp.) in an essay entitled It's For You're Own Good.  The book is $95 important, which means only the important people can afford to read it; at least until the graphic novel comes out.  Meanwhile, you can read the essay for free.  And before you ask, they are serious.  If only us peasants would just do as we are told by our betters.  The Flynn have never been too good at that.

It reminded me of something C.S.Lewis once wrote.
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."  
But then Lewis is probably someone important people do not read. 

Late Breaking News

Charles Singley '56
LaSalle, which was TOF's alma mater, beat Kansas State by a whisker to survive their second round in the NCAA tournament, a tournament to which the school has not been since the era of mega-media basketball programs began in the 90s.  However, when TOF strode the cobblestones of Germantown there were a) genuine cobblestones, b) an excellent cheese-steak hoagie at the Pigeon Hole, and c) LaSalle was regularly among the basketball powerhouses of the nation, ranking #2 in TOF's freshman year.  That was when the Big Five was the Big Five and played their games at the Palestra at U.Penn, aka the "snakepit."  (And come to that, Big Fivers Villanova and Temple are in the big dance along with LaSalle.) 


  1. Sarah Conly needs to have her book suppressed.

    For her own good, of course.

  2. The Flynn have never been too good at that.
    Heh. The Barbieris of the lower Po, from which I come, have produced one saint, one great painter (Guercino, a.k.a. Giovanfrancesco Barbieri), a couple of outstanding scholars, and, according to my father, a quite amazing number of anarchists.

  3. I dare you to work a Lafferty reference into all your posts. Or wait, maybe you have been, and it was just very Laffertian. INDISTINGUISHABLE.

    1. In the beginning there was an interruption.

  4. In re the Canadian camels: The article does in fact mention that the year-round average temperature in the Ellesmere Island boreal forest, at the time when the camels in question lived, was right around the freezing point. This is substantially warmer than Ellesmere Island today (which is mightily cooled by proximity to the Greenland ice cap).

    However, it will do to bear in mind that the Bactrian camel inhabits much colder climates than the Arabian camel, with winter temperatures down to –40 °C in its native habitat. The Canadian Arctic doesn’t get much colder than that even now.

  5. Sometimes the Mask Slips a Little

    Well, I think in Sarah Conly's case the mask just fell clean off.

    And Cass "cognitive infiltration" Sunstein never had a mask to begin with.

  6. In the 7 March 2013 issue of the New York Review of Books, in which important people write importantly about important books, Cass Sunstein comments on Against Autonomy: Justifying Coercive Paternalism by Sarah Conly (Cambridge University Press, 206 pp.) in an essay entitled It's For You're Own Good.

    I won't tell you the first thought that came into my mind when I read that.

    The second thought was, "And that's why leftists want to get rid of the 2nd Amendment."


Whoa, What's This?

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