Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Notes and Links

* The 96th Philosopher's Carnival is up at "The Brooks Blog". The paper on Adam Smith and punishment is worth recommending to anyone interested in either subject.

* A fascinating post about how Plenty Coups, leader of the Crow nation, managed to reconceive the Crow way of life during the time of severe disruption, when the Crow were forced to transition from life as a thriving nation to the sharp limitations of reservation life.

* Water-based and air-based computing:
Programmable Water
Pneumatic AND Gate

Due to messiness and the complexity required (serious computing requires many, many logic gates), hydraulic and pneumatic computing is not usually practical; but such problems can be greatly alleviated at cellular scales. Thus we're likely to see many more of them in the future. Mechanical logic gates are also possible:

LEGO Logic Gates

And, of course, the first programmable computers were in fact entirely mechnical: no electronics at all. Light is also capable of being used, and optical logic gates are currently being studied. (It's easy enough to build optical hybrids, e.g., partly electrical, partly optical. But all-optical logical circuitry is apparently trickier.)

* Designing the Ford-class supercarrier.

* A rather scathing review by Mark Murphy of a book by Sinnott-Armstrong. It does seem to be common to treat divine command theory as only a carcature, despite the actual existence of genuinely sophisticated forms of it (Warburton in traditional DCT, Adams in more contemporary DCT). This is a pity.

* I was recently reading that the largest marine protected area in the world is Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Hawaii; it was created by George W. Bush in 2006 (apparently after watching a documentary on the area), covers more area of the earth than all of the U.S.'s land-bound national parks combined (it's about the size of Germany, and just smaller than Montana), and is administed by NOAA and the Fish and Wildlife Service.

* It's a very American thing, but I love living in a country where something the size of Germany is still smaller than one of our states (and not the largest, at that, since Montana is #4). It conveys the idea of a vast region in which there's always much more to explore. I know some Canadians feel the same about the size of Canada; I wouldn't be surprised if Russians, Chinese, Brazilians, and Australians occasionally felt the same.

* Fred Sanders has a nice post on Christina Rossetti's "The Lowest Room".

* A funny ACLU ad. Quite good.

* An interesting distinction between slippery slope arguments and camel's nose arguments at "Man Bits Blog". Tom continues the discussion of the distinction at "Disputations".

* The GP2 Project is organizing a clean-up expedition to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 2010; the first of many, one assumes, since it's a massive patch.

* A theory about the mystery of how Celtic illuminators were able to keep tiny lines so perfectly parallel without magnifying glasses. (ht)

* A fascinating discussion of late Roman economic policy.

* YouTube finds
Amanda Miguel, Un día de estos
Mahalia Jackson & Nat King Cole, Steal Away

Mahalia Jackson, Down by the Riverside

The second and third are quite a treat; Jackson is often known as the Queen of Gospel because of her excellence as a Gospel soloist. She often reminds people of Ella Fitzgerald, in the sense that almost every performance can blow you away in one way or another.

* Top ten 'worst' Bible verses. (ht) Despite the sensationalistic title, the point -- that it's dangerous simply to deal with isolated verses -- is something any Baptist preacher could tell you; and I've known more than a few who could give more interesting and less obvious examples of the danger of selective quotation than this.

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