* The European Court of Human Rights recently ruled that Germany's laws against incest do not violate the rights to privacy and to family by barring consensual sex between adult siblings. It wasn't wholly clear that they would, since a number of other countries have legalized it, but the Court ended up arguing that incest laws protect marriage and family roles by preventing them from being blurred.
* An interesting case of skilled practical knowledge supplementing scientific knowledge: scientists studying lake currents in Italy interviewed the local fishermen and discovered that the fishermen were already aware of a number of unusual features the scientists had discovered using sensors. But they also found that the fishermen knew of features of the lake that hadn't been picked up by the sensors because what the sensors can pick up depends on how far apart they happen to be at a given location. When they checked, they found the fishermen's descriptions quite accurate. I'm always interested in cases like this; in the nineteenth century science was often seen as a cooperative activity of all of society, with scientists just taking point in an extraordinarily complicated enterprise that they couldn't possibly do alone. Scientific ventures of this sort still exist, but they tend not to be front and center in views of science.
* Bruce Charlton comes up with a solution to the puzzle of those who say that Tolkien's Lord of the Rings is morally simplistic. This doesn't make any sense of the actual story or characterization of the work, which deals with complicated issues of temptation and moral exhaustion; but Charlton is likely right that such critics give it this level because they think any sort of large-scale opposition of good and evil is morally simplistic, regardless of the actual psychology.
* Andrew Arlig, A study in early medieval mereology: Boethius, Abelard, and pseudo-Joscelin
* Ian Barstrum, Constitutional Value Judgments and Interpretive Theory Choice
* The CDF has delivered its doctrinal assessment of the LCWR (PDF; ht)
* The number of ways in which this new diet trend is disturbing cannot be counted on two hands.
* Dick Clark has died. New Year's Eve will not be the same.
* Edward P. Butler, The Intelligible Gods in the Platonic Theology of Proclus (PDF)
Edward P. Butler, The Second Intelligible Triad and the Intelligible-Intellective Gods (PDF)