Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Potpourri CLIII

Diving in...

I will do a more detailed analysis of these two articles at some point, but it is interesting to contrast the views of Kim Stanley Robinson, who believes that scientists should assert themselves as some sort of scientific leftist elite while Anthony Gottlieb believes that scientists need to be more humble about forcing their conclusions on people.

From Hu, the latest proposed outrage from the airline industry: even less leg room.

The only thing more arrogant than asserting that human beings alone are capable of "destroying the planet" might be human beings asserting that we can fix the planet. Makes for interesting science fiction, but we're a ways off at this point from doing either.

Here's an editorial from The Space Review on the Space Shuttle's imminent demise and the programmatic mistakes made along the way.

Feeling snarky? Sarcastic? Pessimistic about the state of humanity or the world in general? This site might be for you.

From Twila: an editorial on bringing back the manned space program. Caveat visor: I haven't read this one yet.

This amuses me greatly: a terrorist made the mistake of asking one of his captives to help him set up his smart phone. This is a truly Ayn Randian moment--or at least a teachable moment, to use the current political lexicon. The assumption on the part of the terrorist is that the civilized person will comply with his wish to keep the machinery of civilization working at the point of a gun. This stuff needs to stop.

Melissa forwarded me this site of videos about the Periodic Table of the Elements after I explained that I was learning about them via another class-on-CD from The Teaching Company, "The Joy of Science." You know: because I don't have anything else to dod with my free time.

From the MSN Lifestyle section, a little helpful primer for women on rejecting men who ask them out.

I was feeling pretty good about my salami and provolone sandwich I was eating the other day, then I ran across this:

From Lin:
  • An editorial pointing out that private property rights in the U.S. are deteriorating. How badly? Well, when China and Ghana(?) are ahead of us on that score, you've got to wonder.
  • An editorial on the fact that the U.S. is now getting cozier with Vietnam, a place where we once had quite a nasty war. This isn't terribly surprising. I see it as part of an ongoing effort to surround China with U.S.-friendly nations on the Asian mainland: Vietnam, Thailand, India, and some of the Central Asian republics. The Spanish Hapsburgs tried to rein in France in the 16th-18th centuries in a similar fashion, much as we tried to hem in Germany after World Wars I and II and the Soviet Union during the Cold War and Iran today. The enemy of my enemy is my least for the moment. Or so the thinking goes. This is how we ended up giving arms to Saddam Hussein, then turning on him when he started messing with our interests in Saudi Arabia. Lin quoted Lord Palmerston aptly on this: "Nations have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests."
I have more, but that will do for now. I simply must get caught up on my sleep at some point.

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