BB #63: In the News

Time for another Friday News Dump! The good news is that these are about quite recent news articles that caught my eye. (The bad news is that I might dump some older ones on you if there’s room.)

Usually I present them, more-or-less, in order of their interest to me… and apparently to my readers, since the comments seem to always involve the first article. So this time I’m going to save the meatier one (in my eyes) for last hoping the others get some interest.

So the lineup is: Dog brains, static electricity, quantum DNA, and free will.

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42 Finally Solved!

Musicians practice; actors rehearse; athletes work out; and mathematicians play with numbers. Some of the games they play may seem as silly or pointless as musicians playing scales, but there is a point to it all. That old saying defining insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results was never really correct (or intended to be used as it often is).

An old joke is more on point: “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” (Asked the first-time visitors to New York.) — “Practice, practice, practice!” (Replied the street musician they asked.) The point of mathematical play can be sheer exercise for the mind, sometimes can uncover unexpected insights, and once in a while can be sheer fun.

As when finally solving a 65-year-old puzzle involving the number 42!

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Ow!

Stung! Ow!!

I’ve been dog-sitting my pal, Bentley, the last few days, and when we began our early morning walk today, she was checking out an interesting hole in the ground. She’s noticed it before, sniffed at it, and then moved on, so I assumed it was just a hole in the ground worthy of smelling.

But today, suddenly she reacted — pawing at the air in front of her. Because bees! Or rather, yellow-jacket wasps, which nest in holes in the ground. Small ones, but equipped with stingers nevertheless. I whipped my hat off and started trying to clear the air (there were only three or so that I saw, not a swarm), swatted one off her side, and then we high-tailed it across the street as fast as we could run.

As we walked away, I noticed that my left hand hurt: one of them got me!

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Fake News

Lying piece of worthless dumbass shit!

Of all the myriad character flaws, each of which should disqualify him from being a dog catcher, let alone hold high public office, here’s another: The complete inability to admit a mistake, let alone learn from one.

Anyone who supports him, or votes for him now, is just as bad as he is.


Order In the Court!

As I recall, I discovered Perry Mason, somewhere in the early-to-mid 1960s, when I was in grade school. I don’t recall if I first found the Erle Stanley Gardner books or the TV show starring Raymond Burr. I am sure one followed the other very quickly (probably why I don’t remember which was first). Either way, it started a love affair with courtroom drama that exists still today.

The most recent courtroom drama I’m aware of is The Good Wife (2009–2016), and I just finished re-watching that series on Hulu. There is a spin-off, The Good Fight, done by the same producers, and which has some of the supporting actors, but which is part of CBS’s streaming service, so it’s not really on my menu.

And then there’s an old show called The Practice (1997–2004)

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Pluto, the Moon, & Dave Chappelle

What do Pluto (the planet), Queen guitarist Brian May, the Israeli Beresheet lunar lander, tardigrades, comedian Dave Chappelle, and Netflix, all have in common?

Firstly, that they’ve all been very prominent in my news reader (and perhaps yours as well). Secondly, they all deal with socially divisive things (some more than others). Thirdly, they all caught my eye because they have to do with things I feel a bit strongly about (some more than others).

Let me explain…

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Dark Run & Ball Lightning

Recently I’ve dedicated myself to catching up on my reading list. Various life distractions have caused me to not read nearly as much as I used to. Actually, it’s more that I haven’t been reading fiction that much lately; I’ve been more focused on news feeds and science (articles and books). I find I miss curling up for hours with a good story, so I’ve determined to return to it.

Here for Sci-Fi Saturday I thought I’d mention a couple I finished this past week: Ball Lightning, by Liu Cixin, and Dark Run, by Mike Brooks. The former is a standalone novel; the latter is the first (of so far three) in a series.

The Brooks books are sheer adventure yarns, but telling you about Ball Lightning requires a pretty hefty spoiler.

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Home Runs and Strikeouts

There has been a lot of talk in the baseball world about the abundance of both home runs and strikeouts. The former seems to come from the “juiced” ball this year as well as increasing effort by players to focus on “hitting it outta the park.”

That effort also appears responsible for the increase in strikeouts — which obviously can’t be blamed on the ball. Some think the increased focus on high-tech stats, the ability to record “launch angle” and “exit velocity” (not to mention distance), is responsible. Players are chasing the “long ball.”

So I thought I’d make some charts and see for myself.

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BB #62: More News

It’s time for another Friday news dump from my list of links. (Actually a folder of emails sent from my iPad, where I do the news reading, to my laptop, where I write my blog posts.)

The intent, originally, is to write a full post about them — which I sometimes do — but often, if the urge to bang out a post right away isn’t there, the email with that link ends up sitting in the folder. The longer they sit, the less likely I am to post about them.

So occasionally I open the cage and let some of them return to the wild…

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Magnitudes vs Numbers

One of my earliest posts was Analog vs Digital. A few years later, I wrote about it in more detail (twice). Since then I’ve touched on it here and there. In all cases, I wrote from the perspective that of course they’re a Yin-Yang pair.

Recently I’ve encountered arguments challenging that “night and day” distinction (usually in the context of computationalism), so here I’d like to approach the topic with the intent of justifying the difference.

I do agree the grooves on a record, and the pits on a CD, are both just physical representations of information, but the nature of that information is what is night and day different.

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