19 January 2010
07 January 2010
...Davis said his group has no position on Darwinism and intelligent design but is concerned that debate is being stifled by the scientific establishment.
Let me just say, yet again, these words: THERE IS NO DEBATE. This is the best example I can think of illustrating that lovely word coinage: manufactroversey. Saying that there is a debate is just making things up.
The California Science Center, in contrast, canceled the AFA's screening on Oct. 6, saying that the AFA had violated its rental agreement.
Science center President Jeffrey Rudolph said in a statement entered in the case file that the news release violated a standard contractual requirement: All promotional materials for outside users' events must be submitted to the museum before they can be made public.
05 January 2010
"I prayed to my god to send me a taxi because I was in a hurry when my car broke down near the airport, and one appeared almost immediately. Prayer works!
Yet, on the other hand, we can look at things this way:
"I needed to find a taxi when my car broke down near the airport, to finish my trip there. Fortunately, taxis are a bit thick on the ground... it being an airport and all. Statistics work!
As you can see, there's little difference in the sequence of events. It's the interpretation that makes the difference. And the fact remains that if you were one hundred miles from the airport, the stories might go a bit differently. On the one hand, we could statistically predict the likelihood of finding a taxi within a given radius of a major air travel terminal within a given time. On the other, we could just throw thinking to the wind and pray, or wish upon a star, or ask Sleepless, Deathless Chthulu to send us his dark taxi minions. But the result doesn't necessarily correlate with the data provided. At least, not in one anecdotal instance. Give me a thousand such, and I can start to draw you a pattern. That's how data collection works, at least, in an abstract way.
03 January 2010
- Aaron Copland, Rodeo, Billy the Kid, Appalachian Spring, El Salòn Mexico, et cetera - already a bit of a cheat, but in the era of the iPod, perhaps forgivable. I bumped Beethoven from the list in favour of Copland, who was my first favourite classical composer, when I was a child. The first album that I ever bought was a three-disc set, on LP, of Copland's music. There's something quintessentially American about him, like very few others - maybe Samuel Barber or Charles Ives - have also captured. Brilliant and essential.
- Ralph Vaughan Williams, Complete Symphonies 1-9 - cheat, continued, yes. But he's my favourite composer, so again, perhaps forgivable. To me, the symphonies of Vaughan Williams are so beautifully and essentially English that they bring me near to tears.
- Miles Davis, Kind of Blue - I might have gone with Sketches of Spain or Bitches' Brew, Coltrane's A Love Supreme, or possibly any of the Dave Brubeck Quartet's numbers, but right now, at this moment, it's Kind of Blue. There's something transcendental, if I may be forgiven that word, about the thought of being stuck on a desert island, the sea washing up on the beach, and Kind of
Blue playing in the background.
- Claude Débussy, La Mer, Prélude de l'après-midi d'un faun, et cetera - I also adore Débussy, and how could you not have his sea music on a desert island? It's so beautifully expressive and redolent of the sensuousness of the sea that on a moonlit island night it might almost be too much to be borne.
- Richard Feynman, The Complete Lectures on Physics - Feynman was a brilliant lecturer and a brilliant scientist, and what I know of his work make me realise how little else I know outside of my own areas of interest. So this would be my spoken word entry - something to listen to that would expand my mind, just a bit.
- Jethro Tull, Bursting Out - Live - this 1978 Tull live recording doesn't have everything on it in terms of songs that I like best, but there's a sort of frenzied energy to the performances, which cover most of the high points of the first ten years of the band. As a rock music entry on this list, it bumps off lots of other potentials, including the Kingston Trio (folk, obviously), or any great country or r&b, and all of the usual "greatest rock bands" on the list. The problem, of course, is that I tire more quickly of rock and pop music than I do of music without lyrics.
- Charles Dickens, The Complete Works - in line with my goal for the year, of reading one Dickens novels per year until I've finished them all (which should take me until I'm fifty-nine). That will include re-reading favourites, all the way back to The Pickwick Papers (originally typed in Bleak House, but I didn't read that until university), which my high school English teacher, Christine Adams, convinced me to read all the way back in 1987. I read the book over the length of the winter holidays that year, in her battered old Penguin Classics edition, and it changed my view of literature.
- William Shakespeare, The Complete Works - again, a bit of a cheat, but I'd like a good annotated edition of Shakespeare so I could finally get to grips with all of the plays. As a slight added cheat, the Complete Works usually includes the sonnets, so I'd get some poetry for nothing!
- Charles Darwin, The Complete Works - here I'm not just talking about reading only the main books, Journal of Researches and On the Origin of Species, I want to read it all. This is another of those projects that I will set myself without being trapped on an island - I intend to read all of Darwin's writing before I shuffle off this mortal coil. he was quite simply one of the greatest scientists of all time, no matter what slander is cast in his direction by the likes of redoubtables like the Disco Institute and little Benny Stein. Darwin's was a mind that I would like to know better, and his writing affords me that chance.