Thursday, August 28, 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
From the Diary of Felix Landau
Monday, August 25, 2008
Music (Cover) Monday
And here's the original:
Trivia for those who made it to the bottom of the post:
The Breakfast Club was filmed in fictional Shermer, IL, at the Shermer High School, which is really Glenbrook North High School. The shul Congregation Ezra Habonim, of which I was a member at one point in my life, holds their High Holiday at Glenbrook North...
Sunday, August 24, 2008
In praise of philosophy...
Immanuel Kant was a real pissant
Who was very rarely stable.
Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar
Who could think you under the table.
David Hume could out-consume
Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel,
And Wittgenstein was a beery swine
Who was just as sloshed as Schlegel.
There's nothing Nietzsche couldn't teach ya
'Bout the raising of the wrist.
Socrates, himself, was permanently pissed.
John Stuart Mill, of his own free will,
On half a pint of shandy was particularly ill.
Plato, they say, could stick it away--
Half a crate of whisky every day.
Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle.
Hobbes was fond of his dram,
And René Descartes was a drunken fart.
'I drink, therefore I am.'
Yes, Socrates, himself, is particularly missed,
A lovely little thinker,
But a bugger when he's pissed.
Furthermore the LORD spoke unto me, saying: 'I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people;When I reed* these lines, what strikes me the harshest is that God has absolutely no qualms about starting over. I guess human beings look at the lives of the two million people He is about to destroy and say - there is value in keeping these people alive - even if they are sinners, perhaps there is still a spark of good in them and their good will overcome their bad. Perhaps their children or their children's children will produce the next Moses or Galileo.
let Me alone, that I may destroy them, and blot out their name from under heaven; and I will make of thee a nation mightier and greater than they.'(Deut 9:14)
But like a child who destroys the sand castle he spend the whole day working on to rebuild a better one, or like a writer to burns his manuscript, or like an artist who wipes the oil from the canvas, God decides that He can just start over and do as good a job, if not better. The notion of time invested in the current work is absent. The notion of effort is meaningless to God.
In a way, this aspect of God is almost a personification of the Universe. The Universe is indifferent to the lives of human beings. If we were to all perish in a nuclear holocaust tomorrow, the Universe would not weep. Instead, the cockroaches will survive, and perhaps, ten thousand years from now, some mutant shrew will evolve into the next sentient being and build a civilization which will start the next downward spiral toward its own destruction.
*Like George Bernard Shaw and Led Zeppelin, I've decided to drift from 'standard' orthography to make sure people understand my meaning correctly. In this case I want to make sure that people see I am using the present tense and not the past.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
He thought about that for a while, and said very seriously - "This is why poop is not kosher. Because it is mixing dairy and meat. We can't eat dairy and meat together and that's why we can't eat poop!"
Monday, August 18, 2008
Music Monday (part deux) Asturias
I didn't until I read it in the Sept issue of the Atlantic. Upon further investigation, it turns out that these bacteria can be pretty effective communicators. Though probably not quite as effective as Barrack Obama :)
Here is an article in Wired magazine:
The notion that microbes have anything to say to each other is surprisingly new. For more than a century, bacterial cells were regarded as single-minded opportunists, little more than efficient machines for self-replication. Flourishing in plant and animal tissue, in volcanic vents and polar ice, thriving on gasoline additives and radiation, they were supremely adaptive, but their lives seemed, well, boring. The "sole ambition" of a bacterium, wrote geneticist Francois Jacob in 1973, is "to produce two bacteria."
New research suggests, however, that microbial life is much richer: highly social, intricately networked, and teeming with interactions. Bassler and other researchers have determined that bacteria communicate using molecules comparable to pheromones. By tapping into this cell-to-cell network, microbes are able to collectively track changes in their environment, conspire with their own species, build mutually beneficial alliances with other types of bacteria, gain advantages over competitors, and communicate with their hosts - the sort of collective strategizing typically ascribed to bees, ants, and people, not to bacteria.
Georgia on my mind
“Because we are in such a system, we are always asking ourselves whether we are brainwashed,” he said. “We are always eager to get other information from different channels.” Then he added, “But when you are in a so-called free system you never think about whether you are brainwashed.”
The coverage of the Russian-Georgian conflict by the mass media outlets in the US has been so unilateral and so sloganistic that it reminded me of the press in a dictatorship. I don't want to get into the details of the conflict; for those who are interested in finding out how this conflict unfolded can easily find the information online.
I am not sure what to think about this? Is it the case that the government has begun to somehow manipulate the press? I cannot think of any other reason for such unilateral and simplistic presentation of information.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
This ridiculous world we live in...
During World War II, the Manhattan Project mobilized much of Berkeley's physics research in the effort to produce the first atomic bomb. Though Oppenheimer had asked Bohm to work with him at Los Alamos, the top-secret laboratory established in 1942 to design the bomb, the head of the Manhattan Project, General Leslie Groves, would not approve Bohm's security clearance, after tip-offs about his politics (Bohm's friend, Joseph Weinberg, had also come under suspicion for espionage).
Bohm remained in Berkeley, teaching physics, until he completed his Ph.D. in 1943, under an unusually ironic circumstance. According to Peat (see reference below, p.64), "the scattering calculations (of collisions of protons and deuterons) that he had completed proved useful to the Manhattan Project and were immediately classified. Without security clearance, Bohm was denied access to his own work; not only would he be barred from defending his thesis, he was not even allowed to write his own thesis in the first place!" To satisfy the university, Oppenheimer certified that Bohm had successfully completed the research. (Wikipedia)
More on Bohm's ideas and their implications later this week (bli neder)...
Saturday, August 16, 2008
I'm back, baby!
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Looking for a source
Does anyone know what the source of this idea is? Seems like a great way to justify a free-for-all.
Monday, August 11, 2008
A Brief Entr'acte
For those so inclined, a few prayers for Pinchas ben Basya would not go unappreciated. For those uninclined, just send some positive energy towards New England.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
If I were to sit under a tree and tell you the sadness we have to suffer, the leaves of that tree would fall like tears.
[Serving the Goddess]
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Monday, August 04, 2008
Stalin the BaalHaBos
Solzhenitsyn and his wife Natalya had not long been married when war broke out. He joined the army in 1941, got himself transferred to artillery school, graduated in 1942 and was sent to the front.
Solzhenitsyn commanded a battery at the Leningrad front and was twice decorated. Near the end of the war, Solzhenitsyn and a friend in another unit discussed how badly Stalin was conducting the war—and how badly he wrote the Russian language. Foolishly, they continued such comments in letters, lightly disguising their references to Stalin by calling him khozyain, "master," or balabos, an Odessan Yiddish slang word meaning "busybody."
SMERSH read the letters. In February of 1945, having fought his way through Poland and into East Prussia, Solzhenitsyn was arrested, interrogated, beaten, and taken to the Greater Lyubyanka prison in Moscow.
Time Magazine, Sep 27, 1968
Apropos, having a duel with lightsabers must feel really weird. I've actually tried fighting someone with a steel sword (not a real fight). It takes a lot of energy to swing those suckers for more than a few minutes. Plus, there is the fact that the sword has momentum - you can't just stop a swing without serious exertion. But a lightsaber is essentially weightless...