Stars That Appear Older Than The Universe


(Starts With A Bang!) – Ethan Siegel:

Something’s got to be wrong. But is it what we think about the star, the Universe, or something else? …

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Hubble Extreme Deep Field


The New Uppity


(New Yorker) – Jelani Cobb:

Amid Trump’s nuclear brinksmanship and social-media provocation toward North Korea, amid the swollen gorges of water streaming through Puerto Rico, amid the craven and indefensible attempts to gut health care, amid the slower-moving crises of voting access, economic inequality, and climate change—amid all these things, Trump yet again found a novel way to diminish the nation he purportedly leads. He has authored danger in more ways than there are novel ways to denounce it. This is his singular genius. When this moment has elapsed, when some inevitably unsatisfactory punctuation has concluded the Trump era, we will be left with an infinitude of questions. But Trump, we will assuredly understand, is a small man with a fetish for the symbols of democracy and a bottomless hostility for the actual practice of it. …

newyorker new-uppity

NFL players kneeling protest

How Trump is Helping to Save Our Democracy


(WP) – E. J. Dionne, Thomas E. Mann, and Norman J. Ornstein:

The election of Donald Trump could be one of the best things that ever happened to American democracy.

We say this even though we believe that Trump poses a genuine danger to our republican institutions and has done enormous damage to our country. He has violated political norms, weakened our standing in the world and deepened the divisions of an already sharply torn nation.

But precisely because the Trump threat is so profound, he has jolted much of the country to face problems that have been slowly eroding our democracy. And he has aroused a popular mobilization that may far outlast him. …

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E. J. Dionne, Jr., Norman J. Ornstein, and Thomas E. Mann: One Nation After Trump - A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet Deported

The Office Microwave Saga


(Good Tickle Brain) – Mya Gosling:

Today’s comics come from my time working at the University of Michigan Library. For a while I used to draw daily whiteboard comics depicting life in the International Studies division. Here’s a series depicting The Great Microwave Crisis of 2015. …

goodticklebrain 2017/9/21 microwave-saga

Microwave crisis on 2015-02-11

Proving God’s Existence


(FTB) – Mano Singham:

Edward Feser has responded to my critique of the press release about his new book that I used as the basis for pouring cold water on the idea of trying to prove the existence of gods by arguments alone. Not surprisingly, he does not like what I said and says that if I had only read his book, I would see that my criticisms were either invalid or had been addressed by him. Probably as a result of Feser’s post, a couple of new commenters have come here to defend Feser (see comment #23 and later) and some of them have also taken me to task for not having read his book. …

Let’s back up a bit to refresh what this is all about. The title of Feser’s book is FIVE PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD and the accompanying press release says that “the existence of God can be established with certainty by way of purely rational arguments.” (Boldface emphasis mine)

These are very strong claims and are what I took issue with. …

singham 2017/09/23 revisiting

Edward Feser: Five Proofs of the Existence of God

Jimmy Kimmel’s Rise as a Reluctant Health-Care Crusader


(NewYorker Culture) – Ian Crouch:

A public quarrel with a Republican sponsor of the Senate’s Graham-Cassidy bill has put Jimmy Kimmel at the center of a national debate over health-care legislation. …

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Jimmy Kimmel in health care debate

How Germany is Integrating its Refugees


(Economist) – It seems to be managing. …

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Statistics for refugee education in Germany

The Madness of King Donald


(FTB) – Mano Singham:

Matt Taibbi attended Donald Trump’s rally last month in Phoenix and said the occasion was one in which Trump’s descent into what looks like madness became quite marked.

Most of Taibbi’s article is spent exploring Trump’s increasingly bizarre behavior and speculating on whether it is sufficient to warrant his removal from office and if so, how that might happen. But in the middle he points out that Trump, for all his weirdness, is not a total outlier but is a reflection of America itself. I am going to quote from those passages at length because such a brutal self-examination of America is not something one sees very often. …

singham 2017/09/20 madness

Victor Juhasz on Donald Trump: cave insanus

Wire Server Code Now 100% Open Source


(Medium::Wire) – Earlier this year, we started open sourcing Wire server code under the AGPL license. Today, the code necessary to run Wire servers is available to everyone for review. …

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Wire messenger

Trump vs. Diplomacy


(FTB stderr) – Marcus Ranum:

It seems like everyone’s got a solution for North Korea. Naturally, I like my own the best: diplomacy. But that doesn’t work for authoritarians.

Authoritarians have to see you bow when they say “bow.” They aren’t interested in diplomacy, or peace – they want compliance. That’s why North Korea is a problem; down in the back of the authoritarian’s mind they are thinking “hey, if someone publicly disobeys me, then everyone may publicly disobey me, and then where would I be!?” Authoritarians cast this as “credibility” but that’s just shorthand for obedience. …

stderr 2017/09/19 medieval

Starvation in Leningrad