Friday, August 31, 2007

Republican Black Friday

Salon points out that there were some gloomy headlines for Republicans on the day that Rove will be leaving his post.

Evolution must be wrong

Here is an interesting Slashdot post. They found that somehow a parasitic bacteria had injected its DNA into the host species. Most DNA injection happens because of sexual/asexual transfer. But if this is borne out, there is a third way that DNA can be passed on. Also interesting is the notion that in the past, scientists that found "foreign" DNA sequences in fruit flys tended to reject that as contamination when, in actuality, they actually may be a part of the fly's genome.

Fascinating. Evolution must be wrong.

Obama's Theology

I am an atheist. However, I do have a fondness for some of what I would call enlightened theology. Here is an interesting post about how Obama's faith affects his views on human nature and the its state. I have gained some respect for Obama given this, although I am still leaning towards Edwards, mainly because of Obama's stance on Iran gives me the creeps.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Wow. Printing a bone?

This post talks about a printing process that actually creates formed pieces of polymer that can be used to replace missing bone in any part of the body. Just ingenious.

Timothy Williamson on vagueness

Interesting Philosophy Bites on vagueness or the Sorites paradox. The notion is simple: when does a man become bald? Is there a point where the man having one hair means he is not bald and when he loses that one extra hair, he then can be classified as 'bald'? Well, of course, the concept "baldness" is vague: there is no quantifiable amount of hair or a sharp line between being bald and not being bald. We just apply it to cases where it seems to fit.

This can put some philosophers in fits because one stated goal of semantics is to find the exact, specified conditions that make up the truth conditions of the application of a concept. "is a firefighter" is an easy one. "is bald." or "is a heap of sand.", not so much.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

62nd Anniversary of Hiroshima

More then you ever wanted to know about Hiroshima.

A good question

"Where is everybody?" was a question famously asked by Enrico Fermi. A post here outlines the Fermi paradox, the notion that in a universe the size (trillions and trillions of galaxies) and age (billions of years) as well as our increasingly better science, it is improbably that we would not have had some evidence of extra-terrestrial life.

Nietzsche Blog starting up

Brian Lieter, a philosopher who is at UT-Austin, I believe, has a Nietzsche blog that he will be posting to, "starting soon". He is an analytically-inclined philosopher with one foot in the "Continental" world (if only to use it to kick Continental philosophy's more confusing aspects in the ass).

Anyway, might be a good way to access Nietzsche's very complex thinking.

Success smells sweet

Or how not to win a war.

How long have we been winning this war again?

Monday, August 06, 2007

Art in a rice paddy

Check this out:

Wind and beauty

The Japanese have a strange superstition streak. From not having a fourth floor on some buildings (one of the Japanese word for '4' is 'shi' which also means 'death') to strange explanations which seem to have no bearing on what is being explained.

A recent example is a Gunma Prefecture official who tried to explain why a Japan survey ranked Gunma last for beautiful women:

“Gunma is famous for its really strong winds, so when people are outside, they have to talk in very loud voices or nobody can hear what they’re saying. The big, booming voices needed just to talk are probably the complete opposite of aspects generally regarded as ladylike,” [a] government official tells Shukan Shincho.
Now that is just strange.

Note I am not suggesting that other countries are more or less superstitious then Japan. My impression is that the Japanese are more superstitious then people in the US, but then again, a majority of people in the US do not "believe in evolution".

Hello Kitty for the horsey set

For those who make too much and love them some Hello Kitty.

Via Japundit.

Women and assertiveness in the workplace

This is an interesting post. Researchers have believed that women are less likely to be aggressive when demanding higher wages, etc. And this has been part of the accepted explanation for why women do not get equal pay.

However, new research suggests that women who are more aggressive in leadership style, or when negotiating salary, benefits, etc., are also less likely to be rated highly. Part of a rather nasty Catch-22. But as the poster points out: if more women were more aggressive about pay, this might mitigate the penalty aggressive women receive now.

There is a lot more good stuff in the post. The bit about philosophy is interesting as well. Being a male in grad. school for philosophy, I cannot tell what might happen to aggressive woman. My adviser is female and is quite the superstar. I would not call her style as aggressive. But I do not know how much or how little she has had to be agressive to get where she is now.

Drinking from the toilet

And you thought only dogs do it. In Hiroshima, they have routed water from the waste system into the drinking water system. Yum.

Via Japundit.

Wireless competition

Wow, a good bill coming from Congress related to telecom. This one would overturn any impedance to creating municipal wireless networks and ensure competition.

Bets on whether Bush is loading up the ink on his veto pen?

So you think you are Buddha?

This is a strange one. Seems the Chinese government must approve all who claim to be living reincarnations of Buddha. Seeing that Tibet is closely aligned with the requirement, this is not so much a surprise. If you are a Buddha AND a political dissident, I wonder what your chances are of getting the approval?