Sunday, December 26, 2004

Ian Anderson on Christmas

The best thing about Christmas is that you get a few free days -- and I manage to spend them without worrying too much about not working. If I want to be more sympathetic, I think I can pretty much agree with Ian Anderson's (from the good old Jethro Tull) views on the subject:
"My views on Christmas? Well, I’m not exactly a practising paid-up Christian but I have grown up and lived with a so-called Christian society for 55 years and still feel great warmth for the nostalgia, festive occasion and family togetherness, so much a part of that time of year. Maybe without Christmas we would have that much less to celebrate and enjoy in this troubled old world. But it’s really all the Winter Solstice and the re-birth of nature overlaid with the common sense and righteous teachings of Mr. C.

A Christmas in this modern world should, in my view, accommodate the leisure needs and affections of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists and agnostics, as well as Fido the family dog and Felix the cat. Throw in a few lost cousins and that dreadful man from next door and you have it! Sip the sloe gin, pull a cracker (so long as she’s not the daughter of that dreadful man from next door), kiss and cuddle under the mistletoe, toss Vegan disciplines aside, gobble the turkey (steady on, now) and have a therapeutic respite from the rigours of daily life."

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Introverts and extroverts

An article on introverts by Jonathan Rauch -- it also has been published in "The Best American Science and Nature Writing" 2004 volume (edited by Steven Pinker):
"With their endless appetite for talk and attention, extroverts also dominate social life, so they tend to set expectations. In our extrovertist society, being outgoing is considered normal and therefore desirable, a mark of happiness, confidence, leadership. Extroverts are seen as bighearted, vibrant, warm, empathic. "People person" is a compliment. Introverts are described with words like "guarded," "loner," "reserved," "taciturn," "self-contained," "private"--narrow, ungenerous words, words that suggest emotional parsimony and smallness of personality. Female introverts, I suspect, must suffer especially. In certain circles, particularly in the Midwest, a man can still sometimes get away with being what they used to call a strong and silent type; introverted women, lacking that alternative, are even more likely than men to be perceived as timid, withdrawn, haughty.

Are introverts arrogant? Hardly. I suppose this common misconception has to do with our being more intelligent, more reflective, more independent, more level-headed, more refined, and more sensitive than extroverts. Also, it is probably due to our lack of small talk, a lack that extroverts often mistake for disdain. We tend to think before talking, whereas extroverts tend to think by talking, which is why their meetings never last less than six hours."

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Az egyetem irracionalitása (?)

Még egy idézet a Korunk új egyetem-számából (Bókay Antal pécsi egyetemi tanár cikke):
"Az egyetem posztmodernizálódásának fontos jele az egyetem mint intézmény erősödő irracionalitása. Az „észváros” esztelenné válhat. Az irracionalizálódásnak pedig teljesen egyszerű okai vannak. A központi támogatási források beszűkülésével kiszámíthatatlanná válik az egyetemi környezet, és kétségessé válik az egyik legjelentősebb egyetemi vívmány az autonómia."

Én nem értem ezeket a posztmodern harcosokat. Ha úgy vélik, hogy a tudományos kutatás és az egyetemek túlságosan függővé váltak a nagy cégektől és a nagy pénzektől, akkor beszéljenek arról, és ne burkolják a témát ilyen nonszenszbe, mint "az egyetem mint intézmény erősödő irracionalitása".

Mikor jönnek rá ezek a humán szakos "tudósok", hogy Derridán, Lyotardon, Foucaulton, és Heideggeren kívül egyebet is lehet olvasni?

S ha már újra a posztmodernnél tartunk, érdemes megnézni hogy hogyan tud a számítógép néhány másodperc alatt a fentihez hasonló elmélkedéseket produkálni itt, és megtanulni hogy hogyan írjunk posztmodernül.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

U.S. science supremacy threatened by competition

Number 67 in the 'top science stories of the year' in Discover Magazine is entitled 'U.S. Science Supremacy Threatened by Competition'. Some interesting facts: according to the National Science Board, an independent policy group that advises the president and the congress,
the drop in foreign applications - down 28 percent at the graduate level - is (...) certain to affect the future of science. Many who come here to study do not return to their native countries. A survey by the National Science Foundation in 2000 reported that 38 percent of U.S. scientists with doctorates were born abroad.


the number of research articles by Americans has been stagnant compared with an increasing number written by Western Europeans in the last decade.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Creationist karstology

I never knew there was a branch of science called 'creationist karstology'. But now I know: probably the best known (and potentially the only) practitioner of it is Emil Silvestru, who was head scientist at the Speleological Institute in Cluj, Romania, before he immigrated to Canada and became a member - and apparently employee - of Answers in Genesis, a creationist organization. 'Creation Magazine' claims he is a 'world authority on caves' - OK, he probably did indeed spend some time in caves and knows something about them. But how seriously can you take someone who honestly thinks that this is reasonable and this is good science:
After becoming a Christian he quickly realized that the ‘millions of years’ interpretation, so common in geology, was not compatible with Genesis. ‘Once I became a Christian,’ Emil says, ‘I knew I had to “tune up” my scientific knowledge with the Scriptures.’

‘Although philosophically and ethically I accepted a literal Genesis from my conversion, at first I was unable to match it with my “technical” side.’

E-mail discussions with qualified creationist geologists, creationist books, Creation magazine and especially the TJ helped him realise what he calls two ‘essential things’:

  1. Given exceptional conditions (e.g. the Genesis Flood) geological processes that take an extremely long time today can be unimaginably accelerated.
  2. The Genesis Flood was global, not regional.

    ‘These factors were immensely important in my conversion and my Christian life. I am now convinced of six-day, literal, recent, Genesis creation. That doesn't mean that there are not still some unanswered problems, but researching such issues is what being a scientist is all about.’"

According to Dr. Silvestru, radioactive dating is wrong; he is "now convinced of six-day, literal, recent, Genesis creation" and that "currently prominent creationist modeling of the post-Flood Ice Age is an important tool in understanding the karst in a young-earth framework".

No comment.

To wrap it up, a little piece of blatant misinformation. Asked if he

experienced any ridicule or persecution because of his strong stand on Genesis creation

, I guess back in Romania, Dr. Silvestru says:

"Not really, for two main reasons. First, after so many years of almost compulsory atheism/evolutionism, most people welcome biblical creationism as a breath of fresh air. Second, God has granted me a professional status that practically bars any attempt to ridicule my creationist convictions."

It is true that religion has gained quite some ground since the fall of communism in Eastern Europe; but I don't think that you can make a blanket statement like "most people welcome biblical creationsim as a breath of fresh air". In fact, most of the people I know, even those who are much more sympathetic toward religion then I am, would definitely not consider bibilical creationism a breath of fresh air.

Regarding his "professional status that practically bars any attempt to ridicule" his creationist convictions - well, here is one.

It is also true that they are ridiculous enough by themselves.

Copyright 2009 Hindered Settling. Powered by Blogger Blogger Templates create by Deluxe Templates. Sponsored by: Website Templates | Premium Themes. Distributed by: blog template