Tags: links

Wonderful interview with Antonin Scalia

Marking the start of this year's Supreme Court term, New York magazine has a wonderful interview with Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, here: http://nymag.com/news/features/antonin-scalia-2013-10/ . It's long, wide-ranging, and fascinating. Don't settle for the sound-bites you'll hear about it (probably focusing on the Devil or the internet); go for the original words. They very enjoyable, sometimes surprising, and in a few cases, I actually laughed. But give credit to Justice Scalia, who uses the word ukase (and properly, I might add), and who brings up one of my favorite Constitutional Amendments, the ninth.

I'm back, and links

I'm back from the nearly-two-week trip to Ohio for family affairs. It was a long trip, but the piles of work waiting for me are even bigger.

Nevertheless, I'll offer a couple of links to interesting things friends have pointed at me:

Hey, Dad, what's a "file"? - an interesting article on just how much control over your own electronics you're ceding to others.

Every Four Years, Man of the Hour - an article about a Vice Presidential expert (not me). Pretty cool.

The news of the day seems to require commentary

Watching the evening news on ABC, a couple of stories caught my attention. They led off the broadcast with the skyrocketing price of gasoline, to the point that the reporter, at the end of the taped segment, said "Look at that. Just in the three minutes our tape was playing, the price of gas at this gas station in Los Angeles went up ten cents a gallon." Of course, she didn't tell us if any gasoline had just been delivered, or (far more damning, and far more likely) the gas station had just raised the price of the stuff that was sitting in its tank. (The science fiction writer in me keeps wondering where Heinlein's Daniel Shipstone is hiding, and when he'll be ready to go public.)

A little later in the broadcast, they did a story in their continuing "Made in America" series, lauding a few firms which moving their manufacturing and offices from China back to the United States. The concept is great, and I applaud those companies bringing the jobs back to the US. But combining those two stories in my mind makes me wonder how long the job infusion can truly last. As the price of gasoline keeps climbing, it eats into the supposed savings the interviewed executives claim to be finding in the States (one said the rising salaries demanded in China, combined with the greater of US workers, made the move logical).

Another continuing story that caught my ear was the mania in Afghanistan over the military burning some old Korans. The locals apparently went ape-shit over this desecration of their religion, so ape-shit, in fact, that CNN's report has at least five people killed in their riotous "response" to the burning. Really? These books were more valuable than five people's lives? Online, ABC quotes this AP report: "They should leave Afghanistan rather than disrespecting our religion, our faith," Mohammad Hakim told the Associated Press outside of Bagram. "They have to leave and if next time they disrespect our religion, we will defend our holy Koran, religion and faith until the last drop of blood has left in our body." They're willing to die because they don't like the way someone else is treating this book, which for all they know might have been printed by heathens, and be full of typos? Could they declare their inhumanity any more loudly? Once again, it makes me wonder if the human race wouldn't be better off without any religion whatsoever.

And in disappointing, though not unexpected, news, a couple of flaws have been discovered in last year's experiment that seemed to show neutrinos traveling faster than the speed of light: story.

Finally, Solar Eclipse, Seen Only By U.S. Satellite.

We chose to go to the Moon. Now, not so much...

"Is Obama grounding JFK's space legacy?" is an editorial in today's USA Today by Apollo commanders Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell, and Gene Cernan. It's a good piece, which I recommend to you.

On the scary side of the equation, I read the first four comments, and discovered that the average person really has fallen for media's dislike of the space program. Every one of them comments on the fact that manned space is just way too expensive, completely ignoring the fact that NASA's budget is far less than 1% of the total federal budget. If we really wanted to save money, we wouldn't be looking at the spare change in the cushions, we'd be looking at the big-ticket items no one wants to talk about.

Analog reviews Jar Jar

Don Sakers, the book reviewer for Analog Science Fiction and Fact recommends Jar Jar Binks Must Die… and other Observations about Science Fiction Movies in his latest "Reference Library" column (July/August 2011).

Sakers says, in part:

"[Kimmel's] writing is intelligent and entertaining."

"[Kimmel's] knowledge of SF movies is encyclopedic."

"This is the guy you want sitting next to you when Channel 45 has a weekend 'sci-fi' movie marathon."

"For anyone who likes SF movies, this volume is worth the price of admission."


I just read James Poniewozik's column in the latest issue of Time (well, it's actually the 17 January 2011 issue, but it arrived today). It's also available online here. I was going to link to it to say it's a nice comparison of Twitter to the CB radios of the 1970s. But before I was able to get to that link, I found this article, which says the recent die-off of blackbirds in Arkansas is nothing sinister, and that animal die-offs happen frequently (I think a similar point was made in FlashForward). The die-offs article notes that the growth of social media and instant reporting means it's much easier to be more aware of those oddities, and that as one becomes aware of more of them, they seem to form a pattern. Poniewozik's article says that social media and instant reporting allow us to form our own instant—and leaderless—news outlets with very precise focuses, which share their specific pieces of information, and then fall apart, only to reform with other reporters on other topics.

Anyway, I recommend them both to you. It seems like there's a connection here… [wink]