Random Thoughts

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio has been chosen as Pope Francis, leader of the Holy See in Rome. That's all well and good, it's nice that heavily-Catholic South America is getting its due and I found it interesting that a Jesuit chose to name himself after a Franciscan.
Are you a science undergraduate or graduate student (or even a post-doc) who has discovered you love science but aren't crazy about the idea of doing research in a narrow field? 

Science is a big place and there are lots of other ways to be in the world of research without doing research. On  February 7th, 2013, Dr. Alex Berezow, microbiologist and editor of RealClearScience, explained how you can transition from the laboratory to the newsroom in a talk held at the University of Washington.

Obviously many of the insights can apply to anyone in science who wants to do their own outreach as well.
I believe in the wisdom of crowds.

If I take one PhD in science and ask them to guess the number of pennies in a jar, it's not going to be close, but if I ask 1,000 regular people to guess, the mean average of their answers is going to be eerily accurate.
Legislation to restrict guns is a lot like legislation to restrict abortion - it's a tough sell at the federal level because of that pesky Constitution so it requires a friendly court and and a lot of lawyers. States, of course, can do it more easily. Some states have ways to restrict abortions and some states have ways to restrict guns.

Gun restriction proponents like Vice-President Joe Biden would probably like to restrict abortions too. America is the only civilized country that still allows late-term abortions on demand, but abortion doctors don't rush into schools and go on an abortion spree so score one for abortion fans.
Next Sunday Italians will vote to change the composition of the two houses of parliament: the "lower" Camera dei Deputati and "upper" Senato della Repubblica. And as often happens with Italian politics, things are complicated. So, despite this site is mostly visited for other reasons than trivialities about politics in foreign countries, I thought I would provide here my own short-sighted, biased panorama of the situation.

If you are a long-time Thor comic book reader, you know Thor's hammer used to be really, really heavy. That means Thor used to be really, really strong. 

Somewhere along the way Big Hulk lobbyists decided that the green guy should be the strongest character in Marvel comics,so writers gave him both virtually unlimited strength and decided that Thor's hammer, the creatively-named Mjolnir (doesn't it just sound like Norse should sound?) was magic, and that is why only he could lift it.  He wasn't the strongest guy around any more, which left it with being supernatural, kind of a cop-out even to me as a kid.

A group of political scientists says a growing field of research has found links to genetics and political preferences - well, sort of.


Guns

Guns

Feb 11 2013 | 63 comment(s)

I’m going to go out on a limb, and write about guns. Specifically, handguns and so-called “assault weapons.”

I’m not going to opine about what the law should or shouldn’t be, but only about the personal advisability of owning these kinds of firearms.

Likewise I make no comment about shotguns and single-action rifles. If you enjoy owning them for skeet or target shooting, I’ve got no argument with you, and in fact I agree those activities are kind of fun. If you like them for dove or deer, more power to you, even though I don’t share your passion for hunting.

Pistols

Two Asian charities have joined forces with the U.S. National Funeral Directors' Association (NFDA) to get people to start thinking about deathcare rather than healthcare.

No, deathcare is not another tine in Britain's expanding Liverpool Death Pathway fork, it is a chance to think about the way your final exit is made, assuming you were told you are on the NHS' mandatory road to demise in time to plan. 


We all share the concept of rooms. I suspect it's common and abstract enough to span cultures and millennia of history.


The aspects of things that are most important for us are hidden because of their simplicity and familiarity. (One is unable to notice something because it is always before one's eyes.)
--Wittgenstein

Rooms are so common that at first it seems silly to even talk about rooms as an abstract concept. Yet, the simple obvious things are often important. Simple human things are often also quite difficult for computers and artificial intelligence.