July 21, 2014

1:18 AM | This Man Wants to Genetically Engineer Trees to Save the World
Annalee Newitz in io9: The poplar tree's genome has been sequenced and it has 42 thousand genes — roughly twice the number as a human. It turns out that this is typical for a perennial plant like the poplar. Though...

July 20, 2014

10:00 PM | Informed parents know water fluoridation is good for their children
Paul Connett is at it again. His latest project is aimed at manipulating the natural concern parents have for their children. He is using crude fear-mongering in the hope of getting parents to come out against community water fluoridation (CWF) – … Continue reading →
5:16 PM | Lambda calculus and the fixed point combinator in chemlambda (V)
This is the 5th  (continuing from part I  and part II  and part III and part IV)   in a series of expository posts where we put together in one place the pieces from various places about: how is treated lambda calculus in chemlambda how it works, with special emphasis on the fixed point combinator. […]
2:51 PM | A YouTube Video Is Doctor's Secret Weapon Against Back Pain
John Henning Schumann in NPR: A woman in her late 20s came to see me recently because her back hurt. She works at a child care center in town where she picks up babies and small children all day long....
12:34 PM | What is wisdom? It does not automatically come with age
Julian Baggini and Antonia Macaro in FT Magazine: When people are asked what they’d like in life they typically respond that they want to be happy. Wisdom, which we might think of as a remote and highfalutin concept, is not...
2:15 AM | Making political capital out of the deaths of innocents
Abby Martin’s Statement on Downed Malaysian Plane & State Sponsored Militias  I have been absolutely disgusted with the contradictory information coming out about the crash of the Malaysian airline in Eastern Ukraine. And with the way politicians have used it to … Continue reading →

July 19, 2014

12:57 PM | Gabriel Chevallier’s ‘Fear’
Thomas Keneally at the New York Times: In the era before cheap air travel, those in the English-speaking world who wanted to taste authentic French village life read Gabriel Chevallier’s gently satirical novels, published between the mid-1930s and the early...
12:53 PM | Bernard Malamud's anomaly: 'The Natural'
Max Ross at the LA Review of Books: THE NATURAL might be considered an anomaly within Bernard Malamud’s oeuvre if it didn’t so closely resemble nearly everything else within Bernard Malamud’s oeuvre. Actually, it’s considered an anomaly, anyway. Earlier this...
12:50 PM | Anya Ulinich's "Lena Finkle's Magic Barrel"
David L. Ulin at the LA Times: It's tempting to frame Anya Ulinich's "Lena Finkle's Magic Barrel" in terms of its antecedents: Bernard Malamud and Anton Chekhov, on the one hand, both of whom are referenced in the narrative, and...
10:54 AM | What Writing and Running Have in Common
Rachel Toor in The Chronicle of Higher Education: When people ask me what running and writing have in common, I tend to look at the ground and say it might have something to do with discipline: You do both of...

July 18, 2014

6:23 PM | Galaxies That Are Too Big To Fail, But Fail Anyway
Dark matter exists, but there is still a lot we don’t know about it. Presumably it’s some kind of particle, but we don’t know how massive it is, what forces it interacts with, or how it was produced. On the … Continue reading →
12:28 PM | Suicide For Birthday Best Present Ever
     Today is my 43rd birthday. When I was 34 years old, I walked along a narrow river through the city of Nanning in the south of China. I was lonely and depressed, no matter the PhD degree I had recently obtained, my freedom, the beauty all around, the women I could easily befriend wherever. I came to the conclusion that my life is not worth its suffering, and that it must either change, that I must change, or it is idiotic to go on living. I asked myself: read more
2:16 AM | Elected officials must ignore activists and listen to own voters
A recent US blog article made some very pertinent points about the role of elected officials, such a local body councillors, on important social health issues like fluoridation.  These officials have a responsibilty to avoid pressure from misinfomred activists and … Continue reading →

July 16, 2014

5:31 PM | Lambda calculus and the fixed point combinator in chemlambda (IV)
This is the 4th  (continuing from part I  and part II  and part III)   in a series of expository posts where we put together in one place the pieces from various places about: how is treated lambda calculus in chemlambda how it works, with special emphasis on the fixed point combinator. I hope to […]

July 15, 2014

9:48 PM | Abstract Structure
Draft of a paper, "Abstract Structure", cleverly called that because it aims to explicate the notion of "abstract structure", bringing together some things I mentioned a few times previously.
2:44 PM | Adventures in the Anthropocene
Philip Hoare at Literary Review: Some 40 per cent of the earth's ice-free land mass is now intensively farmed to produce food. Only 12 per cent of its rivers run freely to the seas. Nearly one billion people go hungry...
2:41 PM | How women got in on the Civil Rights Act
Louis Menand at The New Yorker: For twenty years, the belief that the sex provision was a monkey wrench that unintentionally became part of the machine was the conventional wisdom about Title VII. But when scholars—including Michael Gold, Carl Brauer,...
2:38 PM | Nadine Gordimer (1923 - 2014)
Nadine Gordimer in Granta (2005): 'Beethoven was one sixteenth black,' the presenter of a classical music programme on the radio announces along with the names of musicians who will be heard playing the String Quartets No. 13 Op. 130 and...
11:31 AM | The Advanced Metrics of Attraction
John Allen Paulos in The New York Times: The essayist Alain de Botton has been writing a great deal lately about crushes, those sudden infatuations aroused by the merest of stimuli — the way she subtly rolls her eyes at...
11:17 AM | ISIS: The New Taliban
Ahmed Rashid in The New York Review of Books: In the days since the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) took control of much of northern Iraq, Western leaders and analysts have expressed alarm at what they have called...
5:59 AM | Genes – the language of God 6: Theological implications
  The Rev. Dr Stephen Ames completes the series on genes as the language of God:  Our theme is asking if genetics is the language of God. John Wilkins has discussed in what sense can we say that ‘genetics’ is a ‘language’. His main point is that it is an analogy but one that is […]
5:42 AM | Genes – the language of God 5: God and genes
This will be a my final post. In the next, Stephen will respond, giving a theological account of the importance of language as a literal, not metaphorical, way of understanding the world for a theist. For those who do believe in God, the issue is: Does God speak a language of natural causes? That is, […]

July 14, 2014

10:07 PM | The irony of some peer-review and citation complaints
Anti-fluoridation propagandists and other promoters of pseudoscience have a sort of “love-hate” attitude towards science and the scientific literature. On the one hand they love to cite scientific papers they claim support their message. Very often the citation is completely … Continue reading →
4:45 AM | Caliphs as Entrepreneurs
by Ahmed Humayun Islam has a new caliph, at least if the Iraq-based militant organization that calls itself the Islamic State is to be believed.* In what was touted to be his first public appearance, self-proclaimed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi...
4:40 AM | Monday Poem
In the beginning was the word —John 1:1 Entreaty send me a poem that hunkers on haunches watching for the day to begin, that waits for the right word to come with the sun during the last hours of the...
4:35 AM | Science: the Quest for Symmetry
by Yohan J. John Attitudes toward science in the public sphere occupy an interesting spectrum. At one extreme there are the cheerleaders -- those who seem to think that science is the disembodied spirit of progress itself, and will usher...
4:30 AM | perceptions
Sughra Raza. Aerial "painting" over Innsbruck, March 2012. Digital photograph.
4:25 AM | A Thought Experiment, and One (or More) Earnest Questions
by Debra Morris Imagine flipping through a copy of the academic journal Sociology and Social Research. One article in particular—"Our Schizoid Culture"—catches your eye. The author is well-known: a professor of sociology, soon-to-be editor-in-chief of the American Sociological Review, and,...
by Brooks Riley
by Lisa Lieberman As a break from the seriously depressing topics I’ve been writing about lately, and in honor of Bastille Day, I offer this tribute to French gangster films. First off, you need the fedora. The gangster accessory de...
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