Saturday, September 20, 2008

A spot of LHC bashing

The recently commissioned Large Hadron Collider has been temporarily shut down due to a technical problem.

Some of the magnets used to direct beams of particles around the collider have over-heated, just over a week after the facility was switched on with a great fanfare.

One hopes this thing, which cost $10 billion, isn’t going to turn into the most expensive lemon of all time.

But aside from any qualms one might have about the LHC’s technical reliability, there are deeper philosophical considerations we should be examining.

The machine is intended to recreate, on albeit a far smaller scale, the conditions that obtained within a few nanoseconds of the Big Bang.

But what then? Will humanity then clamour for even Bigger and Better Bangs for their megabucks? Where will it all end?


Doomsday machine malfunction opens fairly largish beer window

The end of the world has been set back further, because the $10 billion Large Hadron Collider “will be down for two months as a section will have to be repaired because of a fault.”

Bummer! So, what will you do with this reprieve-time, eh?

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A spot of Israel ‘bashing’

The State of Israel is sometimes criticised as being ‘mired in militarism’, an assertion to which some apologists for Israel take exception.

One need not, however, go to any far-left source to find support for such an assertion. For a recent example, here’s an Israeli columnist for the Jerusalem Post:

...Israel is so oriented and so geared to the army, and army service, and fighting in wars, that it’s naturally what you would call a macho society...

Larry Derfner is discussing the hurdles faced by Israeli prime minister-elect, Tzipi Livni, in her bid to form government. He continues:

... and so a woman has certain hurdles to cross to be accepted as a legitimate leader in Israel.

Still, Israel is after all a liberal democracy, so Ms Livni shouldn’t have too much trouble crashing through the glass ceiling of Israeli politics, right?

... she’s the only woman in a sea of male leading politicians and contenders, that’s another thing that they don’t like about her or held a certain resentment against her. It was mentioned, the Shas ultra-orthodox party [a key member of the ruling coalition]. This is a Party — there are no women in the Shas Knesset list. There are no women in parliament on the Shas Party and that’s not an accident.

Shas is an Orthodox religious party that considers women not to be the equals of men in terms of running the affairs of the world. Tzipi Livni is not exactly blood of their blood.

Well, sure... even the most liberal of democracies will have influential sub-strata of unreconstructed political troglodytes, and Israel shouldn’t be expected to be an exception to the rule.

Ms Livni’s ascendancy is, at any rate, a promising development in a sometimes fraught polity, not least for her apparent commitment to ‘peace’ in the Arab-Israel conflict.

The worry is that Livni’s yet-to-be-proved ‘progressive’ agenda may in future become ‘wedged’ by possible future rivals for control of the Israeli ship of state — for instance, Benjamin Netanyahu who is on record as a supporter of political terrorism.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Goat Friday

click to enlarge — image source

Nigerian Dwarf Goat

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ask Paul, he knows

Paul Krugman clarifies the recent nationalisation deprivatisation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac:

I wish people wouldn’t say that Fannie and Freddie have been “nationalized.” I mean, it’s basically accurate, but it conveys the wrong impression.

The fact is that Fannie Mae was originally a government agency... Private ownership of Fannie and Freddie never made any real sense, and was always a crisis waiting to happen.

So what we’re really seeing now is deprivatization. It’s not something like the UK government seizing the steel mills; it’s more like firing Blackwater and giving responsibility for diplomatic security back to the Marines.

Have we got the right impression now?

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