Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Longest Night

Tonight is not only the longest night of the year.  It is also the longest night, for any given location, in the history of the earth. 

 

See Tonight will be the longest night in the history of Earth




Correction:  For reasons explained by the Vox post I linked to, tonight will be plenty long but, as far as we know, the longest night in Earth's history likely occurred in 1912.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Happy 50th Anniversary, Rudolph

On December 9th, at 8 PM, Christmas television special, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, celebrated its 50th anniversary.  It first aired Sunday, December 6, 1964, on NBC.  I was 11 when it first aired.  Back in the day, it was broadcast only once a year.  Now, if you're like me and missed the initial broadcast, they'll be many more opportunities.

Anyway, one part really stands out for me.  Who can forget it?

Place:  The Island of Misfit Toys

Charlie-in-the Box: Well it's Christmas Eve, but....
Spotted Elephant: Looks like we're forgotten again.
Dolly: But Rudolph promised we'd go this time.
Charlie: Oh, guess the storm was too much for them.
[sound of jingle bells in the distance]
Might…might just as well go to bed and start dreaming about next year.
Dolly: I haven't any dreams left to dream...[sobs] We’ll never get off this island. Never.
Elephant: Wait a minute…. What's that? Is it? Is it?
Charlie: It sure is!! It's Santa and look! Rudolph is leading the way!
Dolly: You can see his nose from here!



No matter how many times I see it, I still get all choked up.



Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Thought for Thanksgiving

On November 18 of this year, Bishop Blase J. Cupich of Spokane, Wash., was installed as the ninth archbishop of Chicago, America’s third-largest Roman Catholic diocese, with 2.3 million members.

In an interview given shortly before his installation, he said this: “The pope is saying some very challenging things for people. He’s not saying, this is the law and you follow it and you get to heaven. He’s saying we have to do something about our world today that’s suffering; people are being excluded, neglected. We have a responsibility, and he’s calling people to task.”

Finally, somebody gets it right.

Blase J. Cupich

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Harveys in the News

Giving credit where credit is due.  Report examines shared fire chief for New Salem and Wendell.  (And I always thought that MMA stood for Mixed Martial Arts)

The Card Game That Must Not Be Named

It turns out that for many years Bill Clinton's favorite card game was Hearts.  That all changed when he visited Steven Spielberg during the 1996 presidential campaign and was introduced to an even better game.  Spielberg Deals Bill Clinton Into a Beloved Card Game.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Barbie Does Daemons

Who says you can’t change the world…a little. Recently Mattel released a new children’s book titled “Barbie: I Can Be a Computer Engineer.” (Later, they claimed it was released in 2010.) Wow! Barbie’s coming into the late twentieth century…until one starts reading it. I’m not sure how it got started, but it may have been Pamela Ribon who discovered the book and wrote about it on her blog. She found the book beyond banal, to being breathtakingly abominable.

Shortly, it caused such popular persecution and parody on the web that Random House pulled the book and Amazon dropped it. Now Mattel has apologized.

Thus in our internet age, democracy (or pop culture) voting works in magical ways. Whimsically, someone hacked up a way to write alternate versions of the book. Here are some geeky examples.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Serial

Many of the better quality blogs are touting the relatively new show by This American Life, called Serial. If In Progress is not in the "better quality" realm, then it is probably I who is dragging it down. As reparations,  I'll recommend the show. Be sure to start with episode 1.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Bigger Than Ebola

The U.S. panic over ebola is dwarfed by the Parisian tiger scare. Sure ebola may kill you, but so can a hungry tiger, and it is 155 pounds. For those living east of Paris, it is as mysterious as the killer virus, as no one knows where it came from. "The unbelievable tiger alert" dominates Parisian news. "It's been running for 48 hours and it hasn't eaten, so yes, I'm worried," said local resident, Jean-Francois Ameur.
Tiger expert Gilbert Edelstein, from the Pinder circus, said the best response to coming face-to-face with the stripy beast, thought to weigh around 70 kilogrammes (155 pounds), was to “scream as loud as possible.”
“Even better, scream in German. The guttural sounds could scare him away,” added Edelstein.
Leave it to the French to always come up with the appropriate use of German awareness. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

How are you affected by Nightly News?

Here is a short, painless quiz about your perceptions of your country (if you click the U.S.). It's nothing earthshaking or traumatic, but just another reality check that we are often led slightly astray. I didn't do too badly except about the percentage of Americans over 65.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Annual Report from the Edge of Science, aka 'Cold Fusion'

Last year’s post on the state of “Cold Fusion” or “Low-Energy Nuclear Reaction” (LENR) ended with the lines, “for such possibly breakthrough technology, events are progressing rapidly. Hopefully we will soon see if this is a false positive or not.” That turned out to be enigmatically prescient. Two significant events happened last year.

1. Defkalion’s LENR device, the Hyperion, was tested in a public demonstration streamed on the internet. Apparently, when the results were in, the device failed to produce any excess heat at all, reminiscent of the original Pons-Fleischmann experiment. That was the conclusion of high energy physicist Luca Gamberale in a report on the demonstration. The company, as a result, seems to have all but collapsed.

2. Andrea Rossi’s device, the E-Cat, also had a demonstration. Six researchers from Italy and Sweden tested the device for 32 days. The extended time allowed more rigorous testing than previously, and would help determine the long termed stability of the device. The team concluded:
“The quantity of heat emitted constantly by the reactor and the length of time during which the reactor was operating rule out, beyond any reasonable doubt, a chemical reaction as underlying its operation.” 
“The isotope composition in Lithium and Nickel was found to agree with the natural composition before the run, while after the run it was found to have changed substantially. Nuclear reactions are therefore indicated to be present in the run process, which however is hard to reconcile with the fact that no radioactivity was detected outside the reactor during the run.” 
“In summary, the performance of the E-Cat reactor is remarkable. We have a device giving heat energy compatible with nuclear transformations, but it operates at low energy and gives neither nuclear radioactive waste nor emits radiation. From basic general knowledge in nuclear physics this should not be possible.”
The scientists, being trained in ‘known’ physics, are almost comically skeptical and at one point in the report say:
“However, as discussed above, it is of course very hard to comprehend how these fusion processes can take place in the fuel compound at low energies. Presently we should therefore restrict ourselves to merely state that an isotope shift has occurred in Lithium and Nickel. We refrain from speculations in any dynamic scenario making this reaction possible at low energies. The reaction speculation above should only be considered as an example of reasoning and not a serious conjecture.”
To repeat, their explanation is an “example of reasoning and not a serious conjecture.”
Here is a copy of the report.

You may purchase one of Rossi’s 1 mega-watt E-Cat plants for a reported $1.5 million.

There are many, many organizations working on this technology, but, as far as I can tell, all are very poorly funded with the exception of Rossi’s E-Cat. I continue to hold no belief (one way or another) in the practicality of the technology, but report what I find.

You are free to speculate on your own as to its practicality, and also as to why the press does not report on LENR activities.

Addendum: I probably should add that, as you would expect, the results of the report are not without controversy, which is a good thing (re: faster than light neutrinos). There are those who argue that the 6 scientists, though respected, did an inadequate job, especially in measuring input energy to the system.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Lies About Aging

You know, they… they say that age kills the fire inside of a man.  That he hears death coming.  He opens the door and says, “Come in.  Give me rest.”
That is a pack of old damn lies!  I’ve got enough fight in me to devour the world.  So I fight.
                    -- Zorba the Greek

Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.
                    -- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.


Dr. Ellen Langer is a social psychologist and a professor in the Psychology Department at Harvard University.   Interestingly enough, she studied under Philip Zimbardo, seen in this recent post about the power of authority to get people to do evil.  Anyway, she suggests that we may have more power to control aging than we think:  What if Age Is Nothing but a Mind-Set?

Yet Another Captivating Map

I recommend viewing on Full Screen.  Otherwiser it's difficult to see.





Thursday, October 30, 2014

Another Captivating Map

I suggest hitting play and enjoying the ride.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/30/geography-of-jobs_n_6069856.html

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Thinking Milgram, Once Again

We have discussed it before. It should be discussed again, and often. But here are a couple of videos without further comment. One is disturbingly serious, the other disturbingly funny. Both recall the famous Milgram experiments.




Historical Perspective

Martin will be studying in Granada, Spain for his last semester at college. After getting our dates correct, Bill and I started to appreciate a more grand sense of history. These dates and events will be familiar to you, but I’ll refresh. In October 732, the Frankish and Burgundian forces of western Europe fought the Muslim army of the Umayyad Caliphate (the Moors) near Tours and Poitiers. The famous Battle of Tours (or Battle of Poitiers) pitted the forces of Charles Martel against those of ‘Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi. The Frankish army has been estimated at between 15,000-80,000, the Moors at a similar number. Both sides have accounts of the enemy at 400,000.

What is undisputed is that the Christians crushed the Moors and stemmed a 21 year advance of Islam through Europe. Charles was given the name Martellus (“The Hammer”), and the battle became a landmark in history preserving a Christian Europe.

Now we fast forward to where Martin will be studying. On January 2, 1492, Muhammad XII of Granada (King Boabdil) surrendered the City of Granada to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. If Martin gets there by January 2, he can participate in the annual celebration. After the battle of Granada, all Muslims had to convert to Christianity, become slaves, or be exiled. This was the end of the conquering Moors in Europe.

So, Bill and I finally saw our history in a little better perspective. It took 760 years for the native Europeans to expel the invading Moors after the famous Battle of Tours (about 800 years after the first invasion). This country is only a few hundred years old since the European invasion. Native Americans still have three or four hundred years to drive out the invaders and reclaim their country, and history will record this brief foreign occupation state as only just that.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

When Secularists and Fundamentalists Agree, Part Deux

I've already blogged on this before, see when secularists and fundamentalists agree, so I hope not to detain you too long here.  But this latest kerfluffle between Bill Maher and Ben Affleck over Islam really has me in swivet.  Not that either of these two really know much about religion or that they deserved to to be listened to at all (although Affleck presumably has gained familiarity with the subject from his role as Bartleby, the fallen angel, in Dogma).
  
But, we find once again this unholy alliance between Christian defenders of the faith and the  militant atheists joined in the common mission of denouncing Islam.  Here, as Exhibit 1 (and the only exhibit) is an article from Townhall.com (a website self-described as "the leading source for conservative news and political commentary and analysis"), in which Dennis Prager in essence defends Bill Maher, along with Sam Harris, in their wholesale attack on Islam.  See Bill Maher, Ben Affleck and Islam.  Of course, the article is nonsense.   For one, because it invokes the Nazis -- right off the bat we can invoke Godwin's Law and discount it. 

But the depth of Prager's ingorance is revealed in his question: "Where, sir, are the Christian and Jewish jihadists?"  While I confess that, because Judaism is a relativist and not a triumphalist religion, it doesn't have a tradition of killing heretics.  It accepts that not everyone believes as Jews do.  But, like Islam, Christianity is a triumphalist religion and it would be interesting to conduct an historical study on which religion has more blood on its hands.  Although, it's not really fair because Christianity had a 600 year head start.


In any event, the violence of Chritianity is well-documented.  Even thoughtful Thomas Aquinas believed in the execution of heretics:
With regard to heretics two points must be observed: one, on their own side; the other, on the side of the Church. On their own side there is the sin, whereby they deserve not only to be separated from the Church by excommunication, but also to be severed from the world by death. For it is a much graver matter to corrupt the faith which quickens the soul, than to forge money, which supports temporal life. Wherefore if forgers of money and other evil-doers are forthwith condemned to death by the secular authority, much more reason is there for heretics, as soon as they are convicted of heresy, to be not only excommunicated but even put to death.
And, any student of history is well aquainted with a many examples of Christians putting this principle into practice.  For a quick review, see European wars of religion.  As late as 1899, Pope Leo XII issued an encyclical condemning the Heresy of "Americanism," a term used to describe the American principles of separation of church and state and freedom of religion.  It was not until Vatican II (1965) in the publication of Dignitatis Humanae, that the Church officially came out in support of the idea of religious freedom.

Anyway, now we get to the real reason for this post: here is a much more thoughtful approach to the issue of Islam and violence, and worth reading.  Bill Maher's Dangerous Critique of Islam, written by Peter Beinart.  I can't really improve on this, so here it is.





Saturday, October 18, 2014

What Would a Black America Look Like

The Atlantic Monthly recently posed the question, If black America were a nation-state, how would it stack up against other countries?   See What If Black America Were a Country?    It does not compare well, I'm afraid.  Despite electing a Black president, we have not solved our race problem.  

 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

SAT: Student Affluence Test?

Sure, we like to brag about how smart we are and have SAT scores to back it up. Not so fast. Those scores, in general, are also a reflection of how wealthy our parents are. 

The Wall Street Journal has an article, "SAT and Income Inequality: How Wealthier Kids Rank Higher." The article was statistically interesting but not all that enlightening. Of course money is used to make our lives better, which includes better schools and homes for children so they can continue the same cycle. It’s not news that a free enterprise system rewards the rich—even in the area of SAT scores. 

What I did find enlightening were the comments to the article. They are insane! The WSJ writer was vilified for being ignorant, having a politically correct agenda, trying to dumb down education, and, in general, writing an un-American "ridiculous article." 

“IQ is at least 50% inheritable.”
(I’ll make allowances for the unreferenced stat, but IQ is a test just like SAT.)

“The concept of income inequality, it self (sic) is a fake issue. Are you saying if the income was equal you would have an equal SAT score?”
(Well, yes! If income was equal it would not affect SAT scores!)

“All this article shows me is that poor people give less of a sht (sic) about the value that education provides, and are therefore less likely to pursue every avenue possible to maximize that value and demand excellence from their offspring. Pure and simple.”
(Pure and simple, that’s the problem all right. Of course “every avenue possible” may be limited.)

Finally I found a comment by an intelligent person:

“I came from a family who did not graduate from high school. Their vocabulary was poor and they could not help me with my homework. I lived 10 miles out of town and if there had been tutoring I had no transportation to get there. My verbal score on the SAT while above average was not near the top. It was same for the math. I did much better on the ACT being in the upper percentile. I graduated from Cornell University. If Cornell had gone by my SAT scores instead of my ACT scores I would have never gotten in.”
(And this, in my mind, is what the article was all about. Colleges must recognize the wealthy bias in the SAT and correct it when admitting students. This is also pointed out by Harvard Prof. Michael Sandel in his “Justice” course.)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Lost World and the Mating Mind . . . Warning, Plot Spoilers


Maple White Land (The Lost World)

As many of you know, when I was young, I had an all-consuming passion for dinosaurs, possibly bordering on the pathological.  And, at some point during my dinosaur period I convinced my father and several older brothers to read to me in turns the original dinosaur novel:  Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World.  Notwithstanding my childhood fixation, however, I find that I now recall more about the romance in the tale than the dinosaurs themselves.

So, with some plot spoilers, here is how this Edwardian tale of the heart unfolds.  As the story opens, we are witnessing young Edward Malone, an earnest enough Irish reporter for a London newspaper, just as he is proposing marriage to the girl of his dreams, Gladys Hungerton.

Almost before the proposal is out of his mouth, however, she flat-out rejects him.  She explains that, though he’s a good-looking chap, he possesses a defect in character.  When he presses her on the character issue, she spells out to him her ideal, which, sadly, he does not meet.

[A]bove all, he must be a man who could do, who could act, who could look Death in the face and have no fear of him, a man of great deeds and strange experiences. It is never a man that I should love, but always the glories he had won; for they would be reflected upon me.

When Malone asks her if he has any hope, she leaves the door open just a bit:  “Some day, perhaps, when you have won your place in the world, we shall talk it over again.”

Malone seizes onto this slender reed, and the next day goes straight to his editor and asks for the most dangerous assignment available.  Although his editor is concerned that Malone harbors some kind of hidden death wish, he eventually gives in and sends Malone to interview a certain Professor George Challenger.  Challenger had recently returned from a trip to South America, where he claims to have made astounding discoveries.  The only danger here, however – at least as far as the editor is concerned – is that Challenger has already assaulted several journalists asking for interviews.

Sure enough, he confronts Malone as well, but Malone, not without his own resources, is able to win him over, and Challenger reveals his discovery of dinosaurs in the Brazilian jungle.  Malone so charms the professor that Challenger invites him along on his next trip as a member of the press to verify his claims.

This is Malone’s dream come true.  He cares not one whit for prehistoric creatures, scientific discoveries or global exploration – but here’s his chance to make himself worthy of Gladys in a spectacular fashion.

So, as is chronicled elsewhere, Malone accompanies Challenger to South America along with two others: Professor Summerlee, a scientist sufficiently qualified to confirm or deny the genuineness of Challenger’s claims, and Lord John Roxton, an adventurer who knows the Amazon basin and several years earlier helped end slavery by robber barons in South America.

As we now know, Malone in the course of this expedition, encounters strange beasts, has harrowing adventures and from time to time even distinguishes himself.  But the point here is that Malone never would have gone on this trip and never would have written the book (under the alias of Doyle, of course) had Gladys not insisted that he prove himself.

Malone, as it happens, returns home safe and sound, but during the whole time he was away he never heard from Gladys.  Indeed, no message even awaits him when he arrives at Southampton.

Undeterred, Malone goes straight away to see his love, looking forward with anticipation to “the open arms, the smiling face, the words of praise for her man who had risked his life to humor her whim.”  But, he’s stopped dead in his tracks when they meet and he is in short order introduced to Mr. Potts, Gladys’ new husband:

How absurd life is! I found myself mechanically bowing and shaking hands with a little ginger-haired man who was coiled up in the deep arm-chair which had once been sacred to my own use.

Gladys apologizes for abandoning Malone, but then delivers the deepest cut,  “But it [Malone’s feeling for her] couldn't have been so very deep, could it, if you could go off to the other end of the world and leave me here alone?”

Malone turns to leave in despair but before he goes he confronts this Potts fellow:
        
"Will you answer a question?" I asked.

"Well, within reason," said he.

"How did you do it? Have you searched for hidden treasure, or discovered a pole, or done time on a pirate, or flown the Channel, or what? Where is the glamour of romance? How did you get it?"

He stared at me with a hopeless expression upon his vacuous, good-natured, scrubby little face.

"Don't you think all this is a little too personal?" he said.

"Well, just one question," I cried. "What are you? What is your profession?"

"I am a solicitor's clerk," said he. "Second man at Johnson and Merivale's, 41 Chancery Lane."

"Good-night!" said I, and vanished, like all disconsolate and broken-hearted heroes, into the darkness, with grief and rage and laughter all simmering within me like a boiling pot.

But the story does not end quite yet.  There is one last scene.  A few days later, Lord Roxton invites his three fellow travelers to dinner, where he reveals that the sample of blue clay he collected on the dinosaur plateau and had so carefully preserved contained diamonds –- as he suspected.    He had said nothing, however, until he was certain of his find.  Of course, he would split the gems four ways equally, and they were now all fabulously wealthy.

The discussion turns to what they might now do with their newly acquired wealth.  Challenger thinks he will establish a museum; Summerlee would leave teaching and devote all his time to research.  Roxton, who has already given the matter some thought, wants to mount another expedition to the Brazilian jungle and the lost world.  Roxton then turns to Malone.

“As to you, young fellah, you, of course, will spend yours in gettin' married."

"Not just yet," said I, with a rueful smile. "I think, if you will have me, that I would rather go with you."

And then the final line of the book:  “Lord Roxton said nothing, but a brown hand was stretched out to me across the table.”

*  *  *

You might chalk up these last scenes as some kind of endorsement of the male club or a comment on the general unreliability and flightiness of women. These days, however, I can’t think about Doyle’s book without also thinking of Geoffrey Millers’ The Mating Mind.  I prefer to look at it this way:  men do all kinds of things to woo women, and sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t.  But, in any event, the achievement remains, and we find that the entire species benefits. 

As we know, the human brain is much more powerful than it needs to be for us to survive.  The human species would have managed without Einstein's science, Shakespeare’s plays or Beethoven's symphonies. On the other hand, these are precisely the kind of things that the human brain does so well, and much better than other animal brains.  As Miller suggests, most of human culture – arts, morality, sports, science, music, scholarship – have no real evolutionary advantage, but may have arisen as an unintended consequence from men’s competition for women, and from women generally selecting the best, brightest and most interesting among their suitors.  According to Miller, if women hadn’t been selecting the cleverest young men for thousands of years, we’d be still small-brained bi-pedaled primates roaming the African savannahs.

Of course, Gladys did not select Malone despite all his efforts.  But Malone should not be too downhearted. Gladys, as we know, was not quite the woman Malone imagined her to be and was certainly not worthy of his ardor.  Beyond that, he’s now headed down a road that she would never recognize, let alone follow.  He’s a decent enough fellow (and even Gladys conceded that he was good-looking) and may yet find the right woman, a Jane Goodall of the dinosaurs, perhaps.  In any event, his story is sort of humankind’s history in miniature.  We started off just trying to impress women and ended up distinguishing ourselves in all sorts of amazing ways.


The one and only KD Lang pretty much sums it up right here:                          
  

Friday, September 12, 2014

Printing Money

Nothing reminds me more of printing money in your basement than an iPhone launch. Of course, it would need to be a basement the size of the Pentagon with thousands of intricate plans, parts, and paints coming from all over the world at the same time.

Oh, and perhaps you would need to book every cargo flight out of the country for the next 2 weeks.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The End of Allergies

Let's get down to the nitty gritty, practical. No, not whether or not Taylor Swift's new "Shake It Off" outtakes proves she hates running, but how to raise children or yourself, for that matter.

The strangest, most dramatic change in human health (other than the virtual elimination of diseases such as small pox, polio, measles, diphtheria) is the meteoric rise in allergies. How does thousands of years of evolution break down in 10 years? I talked with a parent recently who said that all school parties have been eliminated because so many kids have life threatening food allergies. No more cupcakes, or anything, on Valentine's Day, or any holiday. Food allergies have increased about 50% in children since 1997—50%! How did this happen?

I have changed my thinking, as I often do, as to the principle causes of this phenomenon. But currently I am leaning more and more toward the "End of Eternity" theme as written by Isaac Asimov. I'll summarize it this way, by concentrating on the safety of humanity, humanity was being destroyed. This article, entitled A Gut Microbe That Stops Food Allergies is a study (yes, another one) that lends some evidence that bad things have to happen to us in order to make us stronger. Safety through antibiotics use or through restrictive (parental) fears may be detrimental to children (or ourselves).

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Roman History Buffs Rejoice!

This is one of the cooler things I have com across on the interwebs: http://www.vox.com/2014/8/19/5942585/40-maps-that-explain-the-roman-empire

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Poetry Sunday: "Poetry is the supreme fiction"

As some of you know, for approaching two years I have been writing a poem. Yes, one poem. Among the many things I have learned is that indeed, “Poetry is the supreme fiction.” Here are some parts of poems…no they are the entire poems, but appear as scraps. They were all written by the same talented person. Whether the talent is reflected in the poetry, I leave up to the reader.


“While questing once in noble wood of grey Medieval pine 
I came upon a tomb rain-slick’d, rubbed-cool ethereal;
It’s inscription long vanished. Yet still within its melancholy fissures”

“The painter’s brush touched the inchoate face by ends of nimble bristles
And with their blush of first color, rendered her lifeless cheek living.”

“E’en the most gifted bard’s rhyme can only sing
But to the lack of her and all she isn’t!
His tongue doth. .  .”

(Then there’s a poem, but we might want to start on the soup since it’s 46 stanzas.)
“A moist, black ash dampens the filth of dung-dark rat’s nest
And mingles with the thick scent of wood rot
While the lark song of a guttersnipe. . .”

(How’s our darling Agatha?)
“Twas first light when I saw her face upon the heath,
And hence did I return day-by-day, entranced,
Tho’ vinegar did brine my heart, never. . .”
(Very good. I’m going to stop you there because the alarm has sounded, but remember where 
we left off because I insist you finish later.)

“Tis oft’-remarked, no single, falling-flake does any other
In its pure and perfect form. . .”

“‘If this do be me end, farewell!’ cried the wounded piper-boy,
Whilst the muskets cracked and yeomen roared ‘Hurrah!’
And the ramparts fell.
‘Methinks me breathes me last, me fears¡’ said he
(Holy shit! You got him! Well done, Zero!)

“Whence came these two radiant, celestial brothers,
United, for an instant, as they crossed the stratosphere of our starry window?
One from the East and one from the West.”
(Very good.

Don’t flirt with her.)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Government, Corporate Personhood, and the Web

The idea of corporate personhood and that government represents persons, has led to some strange behavior. One great byproduct of "all knowledge is on the Web" is that people, whether corporations or not, may, through extraordinary efforts in organizing data, be exposed to meaningful information.

Here is a browser plug-in that has the potential for stirring the pot.
(Of course, not much has happened with my last post on potential policy changing software.)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Some Philosophy Podcasts

Jim was a gracious host during my few days in Mt. Lebo last month, and between grocery shopping and travels around Pittsburgh we got to talking a bit about philosophy and online resources for its study. I'd promised to share some podcasts that I've found interesting, so I thought I'd post them here for those who might also be interested.

The first is the Partially Examined Life, which just posted an interview with Michael Sandel, the professor behind Harvard's popular "Justice" class, one that has been featured on this blog (I believe).

http://www.partiallyexaminedlife.com/

And the second is called Entitled Opinions with Robert Harrison, of the Italian Department at Stanford. He's a Dante scholar and, as best as I can tell, a kind of Catholic Heideggerian. I've especially enjoyed his interviews with Thomas Sheehan on the historical Jesus and on various continental philosophers. His favorite philosopher of the 20th Century: Hannah Arendt.

http://web.stanford.edu/dept/fren-ital/opinions/

He also recently published a criticism of the culture of Silicon Valley in the New York Review of Books (low hanging fruit, but still a good read):

http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2014/jul/17/children-silicon-valley/

I'd be interested to hear of other resources visitors here have found interesting.

Cheers.

Mike (the younger)