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Below are 10 entries, after skipping 10 most recent ones in the "nancylebov" journal:
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God of Love, God of War, trying again|
In my previous entry, I raised a question, and it hasn't been answered by my usually alert and intelligent commentariat, though various interesting comments have been posted.
dcseain pointed out that I'd raised a bunch of other issues after I'd asked my question, and that made it harder to focus on the question.
What I'm trying to find out what the Jewish answers are to the Christian claim that Christians have a God of Love which is better than the Jewish God of War.
I have some further thoughts on the subject, but I'll put them in a separate post.
This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1037279.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comments so far on that entry.
Tags: god_of_love_god_of_war, religion, self-congratulation
God of Love, God of War|
Yet again, I came across more talk about how bad the God of the Old Testament is, and I've wondered what standard Jewish answers to the claim might be. I've tried googling, but haven't found the right search terms.
For the record, I can see issues with Noah's flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham being told to kill Isaac, and with the conquest of Canaan, but if you compare damage done by Jews to damage done by Christians, it seems that the content of scriptures matters rather little. And possibly that amount of damage is more related to the amount of power available than anything else.
I used to think that pacifist religions led to less violent behavior, and this may be true on the average, but Buddhists are murdering Muslims in Burma, so it's not an absolute truth. (There's a book about how governments with pacifist religions handled (talked about?) their wars, but I didn't note the title-- anyone know of it?)
This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1036819.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comments so far on that entry.
Tags: god_of_love_god_of_war, religion, self-congratulation
Neil DeGrasse Tyson interview, and he's going to have a show on Fox|
Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey, Tyson's new show. So, Fox is doing a show about deep time, science, and a reasonable chance of mentioning evolution as a settled theory. Any predictions about how their viewers will take it?
Getting value from space exploration:
Do you know there are grooves in the curved exit ramps of many freeways? And that, of course, improves traction when the road is wet. You say, oh, that's a great idea. That came from NASA. It doesn't have to be high-tech to be a great idea. Why did it come from NASA? Because someone was more interested in the space shuttle landing and maintaining its course because it's not - a spaceship shuttle is not powered when it's landing. It's a glider. And you want that thing to sort of not skid off the runway coming in for a landing. So they came up with this grooved idea, which keeps the tires aligned. It channels out the water. And someone thought it up because they were inspired by NASA, not because they're inspired by cars on exit ramps from freeways. So, high-tech and low-tech creativity are stimulated by this kind of activitySchools aren't trying hard enough and are focusing on the wrong things:
DAVIES: So I know you excelled at this and got involved in some special programs. And I read that you were recently asked to give, I think, a commencement address at, was it your elementary school, and declined. Did you feel let down by the public school system when you were a kid a kid?Subtle racism:
TYSON: Oh, no, no. So everyone has all different experiences in school. I just know that throughout my life, at no time did any teacher ever point to me and say, hey. He'll go far. Oh, he's someone you should watch. You know, I had some OK grades. They ran the gamut. I had some high grades in math and science, and medium grades in other subjects, and slightly lower grades in other subjects. You've got to remember, the school system is constructed to praise you if you get high grades. And if you get straight A's, you're the one that everyone puts forward, and they prognosticate that the straight-A person is the one most likely to succeed, because that's the way the school system is constructed and conceived.
DAVIES: Simple. Yeah.
TYSON: And there I am, getting grades all over the place, but I know my interest in the universe and I owned a telescope that I bought with money I earned by walking dogs, because I live in a huge apartment complex. And 50 cents per walk, per dog, and that accumulated quickly. I bought a camera, a telescope. I taught myself astrophotography. I did all this.
I took classes at the American Museum of Natural History at Hayden Planetarium, advanced classes for adults in modern astrophysics. I did all this, but none of that showed up as a high grade on an exam in school. So, there I am, and teachers complaining about my social energy, as though that was something bad, and, oh, he's disruptive. Not purposely, I just had energy, right.
So my elementary school wanted me to come back - because I was already well-known by then - to talk and say what a great education I had. I said no. That's not the talk I would give. I would say I am where I am today not because of what the teachers said about me or did for me, but in spite of it. And I don't think that's what you want, so I will decline. Invite me back one day, and I'll talk just to the teachers, all right, and then I'm happy to tell - give - you know, tell them what they should be looking for, perhaps, in their students.
Also consider - now, see you've got me started here. Also consider that if you a straight-A student in your class, that student has straight A's not because of teachers, but in spite of teachers. That's what having straight-A means. It means you do well, no matter the teaching talent of the teacher. That's what straight A's mean. So if you're a teacher and you put forth your straight-A student as though you had something to do with it, you are deluding yourself.
TYSON: The greatest teachers are the ones that turn a B student into an A student, or a failing student into a B student. Then let's talk about your teaching talents.
DAVIES: Having done some teaching, I completely agree with what you say there. But I wanted to ask.
Were you discouraged from getting into science, or maybe not taken seriously - then and even through college and graduate school - because you were African-American, at times?Anyone know whether white highschool athletes are also discouraged from taking an academic path? My bet is yes, but not quite as much.
TYSON: Oh, so the African-American thing. So there you get, oh why are you staying late for the physics club when you have this athletic talent? You could be really great at that. And that happened a lot. So that's not explicitly racist. It's sort of implicitly - it's not like the stories my father could tell you, right, because he grew up in the '30s, '40s and early '50s. Those are - that's a whole other kind of story that he can tell you. So, compared to that and those stories I heard, I wasn't, you know, I wasn't going to complain about this. I just made sure I had a fuel tank ready to draw from to just get over and get past whatever these obstacles or absence of support was there.
Tyson considered becoming an exotic dancer in grad school, and how difficult it can be to think of the obvious:
TYSON: In graduate school - you're broke in graduate school, basically. And I was flexible from having danced, and I was pretty cut from having wrestled, and I also rowed. And so, on the dance team, there were some fellow male dancers who told me about this club where - it's this ladies club, right, but there's male dancers. And they said they danced, do the moves we do, just in the normal training and for our dance performances. It's in the range of what the flexibility would be for anything else we'd be doing. They invited me, because I needed more money, I was broke. So I went...Preparing to talk with Jon Stewart, and that black people's accomplishments are over-attributed to talent rather than hard work:
TYSON: ...just to observe it, right. Say, is this is something I could do? Just - and there they came out with jockstraps having been soaked in lighter fluid, asbestos jockstraps ignited, coming out dancing to Jerry Lee Lewis' "Great Balls of Fire." I said no - not - no. That's not for me.
TYSON: And I'm embarrassed to say that it was not until that moment when I said to myself: Maybe I should be a math tutor.
DAVIES: When did you realize you had a gift for communicating with people about science? I mean, you're, you do this in a lot of venues, and have for a long time.
TYSON: Yeah. People call it a gift, and that implies you sit there and someone hands it to you. I want to encourage people to not think in terms of gifts, but think in terms of, wow. You work hard to succeed at that, because that's exactly what I do. For an example, before my first interview on Jon Stewart - you know, that's a tough interview right there, all right, because he's brilliant and he's laden with pop culture referencing.
And so I said to myself: If I'm going to have a successful interview with Jon Stewart, I want to study how he talks to his guests. So I sat there and I timed how long he lets you speak before he comes in with some kind of wisecrack or a joke. And what's the average time interval of that? Is it a minute, 90 seconds, 30 seconds? And I would create a rhythm in the parceling of the information I would deliver to him so that a complete thought would come out. So that when he does interrupt, there's a complete thought and then a fun joke, and then there's a resonance to that where you can then move on. Yeah. No, it's not a gift.
This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1036707.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comments so far on that entry.
Copper production and the fall of empires|
This is a chart which seems to show that empires decline well before they fall, as shown by a sharp drop-off in copper production before the end.
I am absolutely not qualified to judge whether this is based on plausible information. If you know some appropriate history, what do you think?
This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1036375.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comments so far on that entry.
The Mountains of Madness sketch|
I didn't realize Lovecraft drew that well. No doubt it's easier when you have live models, assuming you can hold on to your sanity.
Link from nwhyte, who mentioned the title as a Mountains of Madness sketch, and inspired del_c to post this:
This shoggoth I purchased not half an hour ago from this very boutique?
- Oh yes, the Antarctic Blue. What's wrong with it?
It's dead, that's what's wrong with it!
- That is not dead which can eternal lie...
Eternity don't enter into it! It's stone dead!
This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1036274.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comments so far on that entry.
The militarization of American police|
Radley Balko at a debate with Bill Mongomery, an attorney from Maricopa County, Arizona.
I'm posting this partly because there's a handy summary of the history of the militarization of American police, and partly because it's interesting to watch Montgomery try to retreat to abstractions when the issue is considerable fear, damage, and death caused by excessive use of force by police.
The summary is from 4:40 to 24:00 on the video. here are some high points. A detailed pdf on the subject.
SWAT teams were developed under Darryl Gates around 1966 after the Watts riots, and the idea was to have highly trained armed and armored police units to deal with situations which were already very violent.
Until the 80s, SWAT teams were pretty much used as intended. Reagan's expansion of the war on drugs led to erosion of Posse Commitatus (the principle that the military should not be deployed on American soil) by giving military weapons and training to police departments. The actual military refused to take part in the war on drugs.
As time has gone on, SWAT teams are being used for more and more minor offenses, including regulatory violations (long grass, dubious car parts) and less and less potentially violent situations, even threatened suicides.
In the Clinton administration and thereafter, SWAT teams have been used against medical marijuana dispensaries. Originally, the idea was that drug dealers were dangerous criminals, and the police had to protect themselves. This argument doesn't make sense in regards to fully legal (under state law) and publicly known organizations run by ordinary people.
The castle doctrine is that people have a right to be safe in their own homes, and SWAT teams destroy the property and peace of mind of people who are merely suspects. Sometimes SWAT teams abuse or kill innocent people by either shooting or medical neglect. Flashbang grenades are real weapons.
And to finish, a quote which may have been from Churchill: "Democracy means that when there's a knock on the door at 2AM, it's probably the milkman."
Part 2 of the debate Part 3.
Balko's Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces.
This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1035898.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comments so far on that entry.
The inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents|
Edited to add: So much for my beautiful observation. Charlie says quite plausibly that he thought security issues were too obvious to be worth mentioning.
A serious security breach was recently discovered at a bitcoin repository, and Charles Stross, who hates bitcoin engaged in some schadenfreude.
The schadenfreude link has an explanation of what it takes to do security programming for institutions that handle money-- something Charlie did for years. It's *hard*, even with the resources of a large organization.
He's entitled to gloat about the current mess, but since I'm not as convinced as he is that governments should be able to keep track of the whole economy, I remembered he'd been downright nasty about bitcoins, but I didn't think he'd mentioned anything about security problems. He hadn't.
Prediction is difficult, especially about the future, but this is an interesting case because Charlie is very smart, has spent a lot of time thinking about what's likely to happen, was looking for reasons to hate bitcoin, and had specific experience which would have given him another reason to hate bitcoin.... and he still didn't see the security problems coming. Alternate theory-- he did see the security problems, and didn't want to give a warning. I have no idea whether he's that sneaky.
I'm going with the honest mistake theory, and trying to figure out if there are ways to find out whether you've missed something important.
This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1035753.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comments so far on that entry.
Goats at play|
Goats having fun on a metal sheet.
It occurs to me that cats and possibly dogs could enjoy a version of this-- as far as I know, it's just a metal sheet someone left out. I don't see any way it's attached to the ground, but the edges might be embedded.
Anyone know someone sufficiently geeky and cat-obsessed to experiment with size/flexibility/surface texture/indoor base?
This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1035413.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comments so far on that entry.
The magazine rack wasn't as bad as I thought|
In a recent post, I was complaining about the prevalence of weight loss advice in magazine racks, and elenbarathi said that the racks weren't nearly as bad where she lived.
So I checked my local CVS magazine rack, and it wasn't as bad as I remembered. As this point, I have no idea whether it used to be worse, or whether I was in a bad mood, noticed a fair amount of weight loss advice, and assumed there was much more than there actually was. I've seen some indications that the public is less enchanted with commercial weight loss advice than it used to be.
Another possibility is that there's a seasonal cycle, with weight loss advice peaking during the holiday season and the swim suit season, so February might have weight loss advice at a relatively low level. This is just a guess, though.
What I saw at the CVS (and I didn't take notes, so assume that this is approximate) was a lot about clothing and sports, celebrities, cooking, and a modest but surprising amount about keeping your stuff organized, A fast glance at the cooking magazines didn't turn up much about weight loss.
There weren't a lot of what I'd call magazines with information in them-- what I saw was Scientific American, National Geographic, Time, and Rolling Stone.
This wasn't a huge magazine rack, maybe 12 feet long by 7 feet high (about 3.5 meters by 2 meters), and even that was an amazing and hard-to-assimilate amount of stuff if you're trying to actually look at all of it.
Another angle is that this is not an especially intellectual neighborhood. There are no bookstores, though there are plenty within a mile or two. It wouldn't surprise me a bit if there were different magazine mixes at different stores.
This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1035043.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comments so far on that entry.
Names in the real world and otherwise|
Here's a site that will show you a graph of the popularity of your name. I can't get the image to show up, but Nancy was popular from about 1950 to 1965, with a very steep rise and steep drop. And, of course, you can put in your own name and see how it's been doing.
There's a map of when my name peaked in each state, an animated map for maximum popularity per state, and a field for theories about why a name was popular when it was. I have no idea for my name. It seems to me like an equally good name for all eras, but what do I know?
The name search feature is fun, and I expect it's driving traffic to Vintage Reprints.... but I can't quite figure out what they sell, or how to get to the name search from the home page, or whether there's a public list of people's theories about name popularity.
I have no idea if there are names that just sort of putter along at a stable level instead of peaking.
Are authors careful about giving their characters probable names? If an author isn't, does it bother you?
Going farther afield, I have no idea how (at least for me) GRRMartin got away with a fantasy which has no obvious connection to our timeline with characters who have a mixture of contemporary names, common names with weird spellings, and totally alien names. He put work into culture-building, but that doesn't explain why all the names aren't alien.
The Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan, a book that I mostly liked, made me crazy on that issue-- it's pretty much our world with dragons added. The countries are similar to real world countries, but the names of the countries have no resemblance. The characters have real world names.
This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1034868.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comments so far on that entry.
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