Archive for December, 2007

Hat tip to Instapundit, who entitles his post “Cats and Dogs Living Together”: Moderates have been spotted at the meetings of the Modern Language Association, which rejected resolutions against Israel and for Ward Churchill in favor of ones expressing support for academic freedom. I especially admire these remarks, from someone who opposed even the more moderate resolutions as showing too much sympathy with the indefensible:

Charles Rzepka, a professor of English at Boston University, said during the meeting that he was startled to read some of the pro-Churchill material distributed by supporters of the original resolution, and that he was wondering if the MLA would be seen as backing the wrong side. In an interview after the meeting, he said that the MLA’s reputation would take a hit for any perception that it was backing Churchill. “I support speaking truth to power,” said Rzepka, but that requires truth, he added. [Emphasis added.]


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War on terror?

Britain declares that the war on terror is over.

That’s a relief, I guess—but doesn’t it depend who won?

Seriously, this seems to confirm the hypotheses of Dr. Sanity and ShrinkWrapped that many people’s reactions to terror are based on displacement and denial.

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Andrew McCarthy argues that Benazir Bhutto was murdered by the real Pakistan—something that should give us pause in pushing for democracy in the Islamic world.

If he’s right, however, why did al-Qaeda have to assassinate her? Couldn’t they have just won an election?

Then again, perhaps murder is easier than politics.

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NPR lists the top ten unknown artists of 2007. I especially like Lucinda Blackbear and Georgie James.

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Math Puzzles

I’ve returned from my conference equipped with a few new ideas, and three interesting mathematical puzzles:

  1. Show that, in any community of finitely many people, at least two people have the same number of friends. (Assume that no one is friend of himself.)
  2. In a certain park, there are some trees, and in those trees are some birds. Each tree has the same number of birds as every other tree. The total number of birds is between 200 and 300. Jane, on learning how many birds were in the park, was able to deduce how many birds were in each tree. How many trees are in the park?
  3. What is the next number in the sequence 1, 11, 21, 1211, …?

Now the humbling part: The first two are questions from math competitions for middle school students.

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Top Science Stories of 2007

Wired lists its ten top science stories of 2007. It’s too early, perhaps, to say whether “An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything” belongs on the list.

Of more practical use might be this explanation for why wires, threads, and just about everything else ends up in knots.

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Feline Friday: Bobo McFluffins

BoboIt was December 2005 when the stray, tailless cat my daughters whimsically named Bobo McFluffins started coming around to our house. We tried to trap him, but he was far too skittish; we caught a raccoon instead. (Have you ever tried getting a raccoon out of a trap at 5am?) It took us a year to calm him down enough to get him into the trap. We almost caught him on Christmas 2006; we finally got him the next day (pictured at left). He’s now a mellow lap cat. How a beautiful Manx ended up on the streets, I have no idea.

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