Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Best line on Arlen Specter

Mark Hemingway at NRO's Corner:

I read that he was switching parties, but I was disappointed to learn he's still a Democrat.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Roots of Italian Fascism

An older (1980s) article; worth reading now that I've read Jonah Goldberg's book. It brings up the differences between fascism and naziism, which I'd never known before reading Liberal Fascism.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Protestors turn on CNN's hack reporter at the Chicago Tea Party

Wow. Very worth watching. I found myself wishing I'd been able to say that to her, myself.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Texas governor reminds everybody that secession is a right

Not saying any of us need to go this far, but it is a right, after all. Amen, brother!

Totalitarian architecture

Nazi design: Impressive and intimidating. They stripped out the decoration from classical architecture and scaled it up, massively. It does have the intended effect of making you feel the power of the state and its domination.

Soviet architecture was its cousin. Here one architect gives it a gothic twist. (I note his imitation of Monet's studies of Note Dame in varied lighting.)

Both of these have some connection to these other early 20th century designs from around the world. Not that I'd want to live in any places like these, but the Metropolis movie set was pretty impressive. Still, they all dwarfed the human scale. Man was essentially a cog in the machine in some of these visions.

Strange but interesting...

...musical scores and notation.

Some of it's just art, using musical notes for abstract decoration. But I'm more interested in those that are innovative uses of notation that actually mean something as music--Sylvano Bussotti's "Pour Clavier" (1961) or John Stead's "Play II" for harpsichord and synthesizer (although I'm not sure if it's really writing music). There's also "World Beat Music," which cleverly uses actual notation to draw a map of the world. Pretty neat, but I wonder if it actually sounds pretty. In college, we performed the world premier of a piece called "Pyramids." The conductor's score drew out a pyramid at one point. It didn't sound like much.

An amazing mechanical pocket calculator

The Curta pocket calculator, designed from within a German concentration camp, of all things. Absolutely amazing device, with about all the details you'd want, here. And yet, more here. And here's an online simulator.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The UN's blogger front on piracy

The "UN Dispatch" bloggers are such tools. Of course, that blog is funded at least in part by the UN Foundation, so what else would I expect?

Origins of modern liberalism

Fred Siegel writing in Telos about how modern liberalism evolved historically. Very scholarly; lots of things I wasn't familiar with, and Siegel seems to have a deep understanding of the evolution of political thought and movements.

Roundup of pirate discussion

Here's a set of links to various articles on the ongoing pirate problem. A lot of Americans were probably unaware of the extent of worldwide piracy until this past week, because this is apparently the first time in over two centuries (can that really be true?!) that pirates have attacked an American-flagged ship. But it's been a real danger for quite some time. I remember an old National Geographic article from about the 1950s on piracy in the South China Sea, and a decade ago, I first found out how bad the problem still was there, and that it was even coming back in the Caribbean.

So here are links to several articles I've read or planned to read recently:
Strategypage on why the pirates are immune from attack.

Fabius Maximus on why we don't hang pirates any more. I don't think I agree with his apparent stand (that we shouldn't treat piracy as a capital crime or as a problem beyond the normal criminal code), but he's worth reading.

The Weekly Standard's Seth Cropsey on why we need to hit the pirates' land bases.
Cropsey, again, on Obama and the pirate problem.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Fairy-tale cottages in Los Angeles


The proper way to deal with pirates

Bret Stephens wrote about the legal issues for the Wall Street Journal last year. I'm coming to this from the "hang 'em" school of thought. Honestly: we absolutely should execute pirates, and only a tough and public campaign against them will make much headway against the current scourge.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

SCOTUS justices participate in Shakespearean mock trial

Twelfth Night goes judicial. I'm glad these guys get the chance to do a few things like this; I bet it was fun for them, too. The comment by Breyer is, perhaps, illuminating. Good retort by Alito.

Chinese & Russian spies probing our electricity grid

Well, I'm glad these are being caught. Of course, we don't know what other intrusions we don't know about. They're leaving behind sabotage programs to be activated in case of war, it seems.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Administration refusing repayment of TARP money?

Here might be why. Force the banks to keep the government's money, and the government keeps control of the bank.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Theology, Quantum Mechanics, and Chaos Theory

Well, that's neat. I've been developing some thoughts for a while now about taking chaos theory and quantum mechanics and applying them together to some theological questions. In particular, can God act directly in the world without violating His own rules of physics? I have no problem with this happening, and I assume that most miracles are a suspension of the laws of physics. But could God work within these laws to get a result that wasn't already set from the beginning of time? And thus, in a way that we wouldn't be able to detect or observe any breakdown in natural laws. Being a theistic evolutionist, this would work out nicely in having a divinely-directed natural selection, without the need for a suspension of "normal" evolution in any places, like Intelligent Design looks for.

My basic idea here is that the Heisenberg uncertainty relations between position and momentum, or between energy and time, and so on, give us small error bars on these variables. And in nonlinear systems (described by chaos theory) like much of the world is made of, small uncertainties grow into very large ones in a short time.

I've got to go now, but let me post these links to some related thinking that's been done in both science and religion:

Open theism and physics (I'm not convinced by Open Theism, but it's worth reading.)

Quantum Mechanics and the chaotic orbit of Hyperion (Really fascinating--I'd never heard of this before.)

The paper cited by the Discover article in the above link.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Jimmy Hendrix was a conservative

Who knew? Well, apparently the biographers cited here did.

Abstract Mad Libs

I love this. Might have to use it on my next paper or conference poster...