Category Archives: Diversions

Worth a read: Galileo and the Science Deniers by Mario Livio

Galileo and the Science Deniers

“[T]he present Pope, who abhors the liberal arts and this kind of mind, cannot stand these novelties and subtleties; and everyone here tries to adjust his mind and his nature to that of the ruler.” Piero Guicciardini, describing Pope Paul V (1550–1621) Astrophysicist and Hubble Telescope guru Mario Livio suggests that you substitute the name of some current political ruler… Read more »

Worth a read: How to Hide an Empire by Daniel Immerwahr

How to Hide an Empire

I like history books that surprise me with something important that I should have previously known. Daniel Immerwahr starts his recently-published How to Hide an Empire: a History of the Greater United States with a photocopy of a draft of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous December 7, 1941, “Day of Infamy” speech. Scratched out of the draft is a mention that… Read more »

The top posts of 2019

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Old Man Yells at Cloud

This classic image from The Simpsons characterizes this blog well. However, some posts do seem to take off on their own, usually because of forwards from Twitter and Facebook followers that I don’t even see. I have also been getting some traffic from the new social media site sponsored by Wikipedia, called WikiTribune, found at WT.Social. You have put your… Read more »

Worth a read: A Decent Life by Todd May

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A Decent Life

Ever since Aristotle tried to simplify the complexity of ethical reasoning down to his one-word concept of virtue, successive theologians and philosophers have been throwing out words or short phrases for labeling their life’s work formulations. Immanuel Kant (1724 – 1804) came up with his duty-based categorical imperative. My own study of this field in the 1990s was heavily influenced… Read more »

Schlemiels, schlimazels, probability and free will

Laverne & Shirley

“The brain is a machine that remembers the past in order to predict the future.” — Dean Buonomano [1] Schlemiel and schlimazel are two Yiddish words known to many only by their mention in the theme song to the old television show Laverne and Shirley. In the classic definition, the schlemiel is the bungler who is always spilling soup on… Read more »