[links] Link salad thinks some they do and some they don’t

A French review of Extraordinary Engines — Including my story, “The Lollygang Save the World on Accident”.

Getting out of the way — Roger Ebert on prodigies and the creative process.

5 Timeless Books of Insight on Fear and the Creative Process — The only time I experience fear in my creative process is immediately before diving into a large scale project.

Mysterious 16th-Century Sext Discovered in Copy of Chaucer — Heh. (Via [info]danjite.)

Led by the child who simply knew — Raising a transgendered child.

Having to think about the unthinkableMost people don’t like to plan for dying, but in our state of denial, we leave ourselves vulnerable to conditions we would never want. Arrangements for the end of life are essential.

NASA is planning to use a giant crossbow and harpoon to capture samples from an asteroid. — Oh, the opportunities…

How the 10,000-Year Clock Measures Time>The Earth’s rotation is notoriously unpredictable. So how can a clock keep time for 10,000 years?

Higgs boson: the particle of faithThere are parallels between the search for the ‘God particle’ and the search for God Himself, writes Alister McGrath.

Overnight Makeover for a Kosher First Kitchen — Making the White House kitchen kosher. (Thanks to Dad.)

A common atheist delusion — This is one of my mental failings as an atheist as well. I find religious dogma so preposterous and obviously suspect that I have a lot of trouble believing that other people really believe it. My default assumption is always that they are going through the motions for some other reason. Which is an error-of-thinking on my part, to be sure.

Texas school may build protective wall after 2 students shot while trying out for basketball — See, your your Constitutionally guaranteed right to defense of essential liberties with firearms requires that rather than limit firearms use near schools, or any other sensible measure, we build walls around those schools. Because otherwise students might get shot by people out exercising their constitutional rights, and after all it’s kids’ fault for getting in the way of the bullets. This is yet another reason why I can never be a conservative. I just can’t think myself that twisted and inhumane, to believe that gun rights trump the safety of schoolchildren.

Empathy, Cont. — Ta-Nehisi Coates on culture as a toolbox. I will also note, in parallel to his observation about weight and class, that there are no overweight kids in [info]the_child‘s eight grade class, and vanishingly few in her entire school — which is a Waldorf school populated largely by the children of relatively (or heavily) monied white liberal-progressives. I am one of the few overweight parents, as well.

Non Sequitur nails contemporary politics — Read the blackboard in the background.

Physics EnvyCreating financial models involving human behavior is like forcing ‘the ugly stepsister’s foot into Cinderella’s pretty glass slipper.’

Panetta formally shuts down US war in Iraq — And we’ll just leave the money on the dresser on out way out, right?

?otd: Some you just can’t tell, right?


12/15/2011
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo fatigue)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 9.5 (solid, plus plus napping)
Weight: 209.6
Currently (re)reading: Retief! by Keith Laumer

2 thoughts on “[links] Link salad thinks some they do and some they don’t

  1. The McGraw article is as ridiculous as any other: yet another very sad attempt to comfort the religious and make them feel that “science is just another belief system.” It’s so painfully wrong it’s hard to know when to start.

    Unlike religion, if it turns out we can’t experimentally determine the presence of the Higgs boson within the range of the LHC’s operating power… cool. It matters that the Higgs Boson is not there because it means we’ll have something else to figure out. It might take a few iterations of the physics community for the genius who reorients the whole math in the right direction, but still, cool. If it is there, we’ll be on the path to a new technology, and a new grasp on the way the universe works.

    Neither of which is true for religion. Compare McGrath’s article with Baggini’s: McGrath not only believes his gobbledygook, he’s out to defend its turf by tearing down the one thing, skepticism, that has granted him a comfortable life. Baggini’s just stunned to learn how deadly earnest McGrath can be.

  2. Cora says:

    Regarding the Ta-Nehisi Coates piece, there’s an even bigger cultural component here. Because in Western Europe (particularly in Belgium, France and Italy) limiting yourself to the main course and declining the starters and dessert would be a mark of an uncultured and provincial person. A truly cultured person would know that a proper meal consists of at least three courses. You’re allowed to skip dessert in favour of coffee or tea, if you’re too full. And you’re allowed not to finish your plate, if the portion is too big. Though if in a really fine restaurant, the portions wouldn’t be too big, because they wouldn’t expect guests to order only the main course. So if I’d been at that dinner in Aspen, I’d probably have made a remark about all of those uncultured people who don’t know how to enjoy a proper meal to Ta-Nehisi Coates, while we both munched away on our desserts. Of course, it also shows the difference in social and cultural background that he immediately asked himself what he was doing wrong, while I would confidently eat the dessert, secure that the others are doing it wrong.

    Nor would the three course meal diners all be overweight, because they probably diet or skip meals in the privacy of their own homes. But dieting while eating out is considered rude. That’s also why calorie information and “light options” in restaurant menus in the US confuse me. Because I come from a background where you don’t think of calories and diets when you eat out.

    Regarding the atheist fallacy link, I can certainly recognize myself in this, because I never really believed in some of the more preposterous trappings of Christianity, even while I still believed in God, e.g. I viewed communion as a rather silly ritual that required me to eat a wafer that made me retch and drink from an unhygienic communal cup. No wonder that the local pastor was not exactly sympathetic to my earnest suggestions how to improve the ritual to make it more pleasant and hygienic. In retrospect, I never was a proper Christian at all, just someone who would hold mental conversations with an entity I had learned to call God for a while.

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