Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Bits and Pieces

* Sunni Sister has an excellent post on women and body image, from a Muslim perspective.

* The coolest British MP in any timeline, of course, is the MP from Flydale North.

* A good discussion of Presidential signing statements at FindLaw. Also at FindLaw, a very good discussion by Sherry Colb of the somewhat absurd claim that forcing fathers to pay child support for unwanted children is sexual discrimination (see also Joanna Grossman's discussion); and John Dean discusses a very disturbing event in which a bill not passed by Congress has been treated as a law, due to faulty procedure.

* McCarraher on The Incoherence of Hannah Arendt [HT: Cliopatria]. The Library of Congress, by the way, has a great set of Hannah Arendt papers online.

* A discussion of Galileo and methodological naturalism at "Studi Galileiani".

* A must-read on immigration tensions in the U.S.: Multilingual by our own choice at "The Rhine River". Spanish is an official state language of New Mexico. Problems like the one Nathanael highlights in the post are surprisingly pervasive. I remember reading once about a Democratic rally in New Mexico, before a largely Hispanic crowd, at which Teresa Heinz said, "I'm an immigrant, too." The problem, of course, was that the crowd consisted of almost no immigrants; they were almost all middle-class and working-class Americans of Hispanic background, many of whom had probably never even been out of the country on vacation. People were not amused; Hispanics in New Mexico tend to treasure their Hispanic background and the Spanish language; but they tend not to treasure the stereotypes that Hispanics all hopped over the Rio Grande, whether legally or illegally. And who could seriously blame them? (Trivia Question: What other states besides New Mexico have non-English official languages in addition to English? A hint: the languages are French and a certain Austronesian language.)

* An interesting review of Dennett's Breaking the Spell by H. Allen Orr (HT: Prosblogion).

* In case you needed to know:

You Are 14% Evil

You are good. So good, that you make evil people squirm.
Just remember, you may need to turn to the dark side to get what you want!
[HT: AES ]


* According to Heisenberg, his cooperation with the Nazi regime grew out of a conflict. On the one hand, he had no sympathies for the regime and its more enthusiastic supporters at all (nor they for him, since he was associated in their minds with Einstein), and considered leaving. On the other hand, he didn't feel he could leave Germany, and had received advice, which seemed convincing at the time, from no less than Planck, to hunker down and wait out the storm. So he cooperated with the regime in its nuclear weapons program. While he doesn't claim to have engaged in any direct sabotage, he does claim that he regularly overestimated to the authorities how long and how expensive the relevant research would have been, and devoted what uncertain influence he had to convincing them that the focus of the research should be piles, not bombs. Such is Heisenberg's claim in published works (Physics and Beyond, if I'm not confusing it with one of his other books), and much of the story has received at least a bit of confirmation from contemporary documents and declassified files involving secretly recorded conversations. I was interested, however, to come across this letter from Bohr to Heisenberg, in which Bohr expresses puzzlement over part of Heisenberg's story. (Clark recommends this PhysicsWeb article for general background on this point.)

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