Archives for July, 2013

I went through an Orson Scott Card phase while I was in graduate school. I started with his most famous novel, Ender’s Game, which I enjoyed immensely. I then proceeded, over the next year or so, to read all of the novels he had written to that point. At that time I didn’t know anything…

This poor guy! A 35-year-old Israeli man was rushed to the hospital on Friday after a snake suddenly emerged from the toilet he was sitting on and bit the man’s penis. The injured man told emergency workers that he noticed a strong burning sensation as he was using the toilet in his parents’ home in…

Krugman States it Plain

Paul Krugman tells you what you need to know about the vote by House Republicans to drop the food stamp program from the Farm Bill: Something terrible has happened to the soul of the Republican Party. We’ve gone beyond bad economic doctrine. We’ve even gone beyond selfishness and special interests. At this point we’re talking…

At the risk of turning this into the broccoli blog, HuffPo serves up an interesting companion piece to Tuesday’s post. In the comments I remarked that no one is neutral about broccoli. You either love it or you hate it. Well, here come the geneticists to explain why that is: Broccoli has certainly earned its…

Fun With Conditionals

In logic, a conditional is an if-then statement. “If it rains, then I will go to the movies,” that’s a conditional. The question is, how should we assign a truth value to such a statement? This is a question of some importance to mathematicians, since every theorem is ultimately an if-then statement. In some situations…

Yum! Broccoli.

I’m all out of deep thoughts for the moment, so why not just have a look at this article about an attempt to engineer a better broccoli: There it sits, a deep-green beauty at the farmers’ market: that sweet, crisp nutritional dynamo we know as fresh local broccoli. And then there’s this: a bitter, rubbery…

Ever since Darwin, there has been one main argument against evolution. I am referring to the general feeling that things don’t naturally get more complex over time. Evolution says that novel structures and functionalities can evolve through entirely natural means, but that is counter to intuition. Richard Dawkins has quite properly mocked this as, “The…

Over at Amazon, paleontologist Donald Prothero has posted a review of Among the Creationists. (The review will eventually appear in Skeptic Magazine as well.) Prothero is a familiar name to people with an interest in this issue, since he is the author of the magnificient 2007 book Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why it…

The percentage of Americans claiming no religious affiliation has been growing steadily over the last decade, and currently stands around twenty percent. This represents a significant weakening in the hold of organized religion on American culture. So, is this a good thing? I say yes! Of course, claiming no religious affiliation does not necessarily make…

Just in case you were wondering whether weekly news magazines still serve any purpose, the answer is no. Go read this epic post, from Hemant Mehta, documenting the perfidy of Joe Klein in a recent Time magazine cover story. Klein, if you are not familiar with him, has long been one of the hackiest of…

Freeman on ID

Morgan Freeman is one of those actors who is always good, even if the movie is bad. Most recently I saw him in in Now You See Me, which I enjoyed, despite its preposterous story. He is also a big science booster. He hosts the show Through the Wormhole on the Science Channel. So, all…

The Liar Paradox

The liar paradox is the statement: “This sentence is false.” Let us refer to this sentence simply as L. The paradox comes when we try to assign a truth value to L. Is it true or is it false? If we declare it to be true, then what it says must actually be the case.…