Sunday, January 24, 2021

Kwisatz Haderach, give the dog a bone ...

They've actually discovered there were giant prehistoric sand worms. "Giant" meaning about two meters long. They were predatory, lived on the ocean floor, and existed about 20 million years ago. The spice must flow.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Two devastating reviews

 First, David Albert's review of A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing by Lawrence Krauss. Here's a link to the review and here's an excerpt from the end of it:


When I was growing up, where I was growing up, there was a critique of religion according to which religion was cruel, and a lie, and a mechanism of enslavement, and something full of loathing and contempt for every­thing essentially human. Maybe that was true and maybe it wasn’t, but it had to do with important things — it had to do, that is, with history, and with suffering, and with the hope of a better world — and it seems like a pity, and more than a pity, and worse than a pity, with all that in the back of one’s head, to think that all that gets offered to us now, by guys like these, in books like this, is the pale, small, silly, nerdy accusation that religion is, I don’t know, dumb.


Second, Edward Feser's review of From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds by Daniel Dennett. Here's a link to the review and here's an excerpt from the beginning of it:


How do you get blood from a stone? Easy. Start by redefining “blood” to mean “a variety of stone.” Next, maintaining as straight a face as possible, dramatically expound upon some trivial respect in which stone is similar to blood. For example, describe how, when a red stone is pulverized and stirred into water, the resulting mixture looks sort of like blood. Condescendingly roll your eyes at your incredulous listener’s insistence that there are other and more important respects in which stone and blood are dissimilar. Accuse him of obscurantism and bad faith. Finally, wax erudite about the latest research in mineralogy, insinuating that it somehow shows that to reject your thesis is to reject Science Itself.

Of course, no one would be fooled by so farcical a procedure. But substitute “mind” for “blood” and “matter” for “stone,” and you have the recipe for Daniel Dennett’s From Bacteria to Bach and Back.


Monday, January 11, 2021

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Quote of the Day

I am a democrat because I believe in the Fall of Man. I think most people are democrats for the opposite reason. A great deal of democratic enthusiasm descends from the ideas of people like Rousseau, who believed in democracy because they thought mankind so wise and good that everyone deserved a share in the government. The danger of defending democracy on those grounds is that they're not true. And whenever their weakness is exposed, the people who prefer tyranny make capital out of the exposure. I find that they're not true without looking further than myself. I don't deserve a share in governing a hen-roost, much less a nation. Nor do most people -- all the people who believe advertisements, and think in catchwords and spread rumours. The real reason for democracy is just the reverse. Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows. Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves. I do not contradict him. But I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters.

C.S. Lewis
In Present Concerns

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Ho-lee crap

OK, I don't write much about political events, but some Trump fanatics have stormed the Capitol building today when they were about to officially count up the electoral votes. Even if you think the election was stolen, this is not the way to go about "fixing" it, or whatever it is you're trying to do. At some point you have to respect the wishes of all those people who disagree with you and voted contrary to the way you did. If just a thousand people conspired to give the presidency to someone that no one else wanted -- that would be one thing. But tens of millions of people didn't want Trump to be re-elected. These are your fellow citizens. And "they didn't show that respect to us when the shoe was on the other foot" isn't an argument. That's just to swap out the Golden Rule for the Brass Rule.