Archives for September, 2006

Bathroom Dispute Halts Chess Championship

That’s the headline in The New York Times. I’m not kidding. Game five of the big reunification match for the World Chess Championship was supposed to be today. This was the match that was going to restore harmony to the chess world, after the big split in 1993 when Gary Kasparov refused to defend his…

Michael Shermer answers yes in his latest column for Scientific American. He conveniently organizes his arguments in a series of bullet points, and we will consider that momentarily. Shermer gave me my big break in the evolution biz by publishing my reviews of Ken Miler’s Finding Drawin’s God and John Haught’s God After Darwin in…

The String Theory Wars

Have a look at this article from the current New Yorker. It focuses on the recent anti-string theory books from Lee Smolin and Peter Woit. The article provides a decent summary of Smolin’s and Woit’s views, but it is seriously marred by the lack of any contrary views of the matter. The views expressed by…

Game Four Drawn

The big chess match continues apace. Topalov pressed hard with the white pieces in game four. He developed some advantage but was never really close to winning. Kramnik’s tough-as-nails defense did not permit any breakthroughs, and Topalov had to settle for a draw. The score is now 3-1 in Kramnik’s favor. Thursday is a rest…

Anything New on the ID Front?

Over at the utlra-right-wing website World Net Daily, Jonathan Wells has posted a characteristically ignorant and dishonest essay entitled “Why Darwinism is Doomed.” Yawn. P. Z. Myers takes care of business with this smackdown. Worth reading both for the joy of seeing Wells’ rhetorically dismembered, and for the clear description of some recent research into…

Draw in Game Three

Veselin Topalov finally managed to get on the board in the third game of his match with Vladimir Kramnik. On the black side of another Catalan Topalov made a draw in 38 moves. This was no grandmaster draw, however. Topalov fought hard as always to generate chances, and at one point might have pressed too…

Topalov Digs a Hole

Two games down in the big World Chess Championship and two wins for Kramnik. But that doesn’t tell the whole story. Game One saw the quiet Catalan Defense from Kramnik, an ultra-solid opening fitting Kramnik’s style. He obtained a small advantage out of the opening but Topalov was never in serious danger. Near the first…

Kramnik vs. Topalov!

Omigod, omigod, omigod! Ask me how excited I am. Go ahead, ask me. Answer: Very excited. Why? Because the match for the World Chess Championship begins tomorrow, as you would know if our miserable press corps would get around to covering something important for a change. The defending champion is Vladimir Kramnik of Russia, who…

Hitchens Again

In Tuesday’s post I commented that Christopher Hitchens is always reliable when writing about religion. As if to prove my point, the new issue of Free Inquiry turned up in my mailbox that night. It features an essay by Hitchens addressing the looming schism in the Anglican Church on the subject of allowing openly gay…

New Fossil Hominid Found

The Washington Post reports the latest fossil hominid discovered in Africa: Fossil hunters have unearthed the fossil skeleton of a baby who died 3.3 million years ago, marking the first time scientists have discovered the nearly complete remains of a child of an ancient human ancestor. The child, a girl who was about 3-years-old when…

The Altruism Equation

Lee Alan Dugatkin’s new book The Altruism Equation: Seven Scientists Search for the Origins of Goodness was sitting on my doorstep a few days ago (too big to fit in the mailbox). Dugatkin is a biologist at the University of Louisville. That evening I sat down to read the first chapter, and ended up polishing…

Hitchens on the Pope

When Christopher Hitchens writes about religion, he is always reliable. Over at Slate he offers his thoughts on the Pope’s recent dust-up with the Muslim community: Attempting to revive his moribund church on a visit to Germany, where the Roman congregations are increasingly sparse, Joseph Ratzinger (as I shall always think of him) has managed…

Gore’s Next Book

According to this brief from The Washington Post, Al Gore will be publishing a book next year entitled The Assault on Reason: That is when Gore is scheduled to publish his next book. With no fanfare, he signed a few weeks ago with Penguin Press to write “The Assault on Reason.” As described by editor…

Easterbrook on String Theory

In an incomprehensible display of poor editorial judgment, Slate recently published this unusually bad article on the merits of string theory, by Gregg Easterbrook. It’s a familiar name to connoisseurs of bad science writing. Easterbrook has previously come out in favor of teaching ID in schools as a legitimate theory in opposition to evolution, for…

Things to Read

Have to blog and run today. I get to spend three hours this afternoon trying to persuade skeptical calculus students that “related rate” problems aren’t so bad. A forlorn quest, I know. Anyway, how about I just point you towards some interesting reading: Over at CSICOP’s site, Penny Higgins offers this excellent article on the…