♦ My wife has a new blog about quilting.
♦ This Nature article describes the subfield of quantum gravity which I've been working in—I know most of these people. This is a lot more accurate of a description than your average pop journalism article, so check it out. (Of course many of the ideas here are speculative and may turn out to be false.)
♦ What if you discovered one day that everyone except you has a magical superpower, and you never knew about it? A true story, flippantly described yet also deeply moving.
(If you're curious to find out more, here's another decent article on the same subject. [Warning: includes gratuitous disturbing art involving surreal faces])
♦ You already know that dolphins are really smart animals—but that doesn't mean you won't enjoy reading more about it.
♦ One way to go to college for free. But not suitable for dolphins...
♦ Once upon a time, people thought that Jews were naturally the best at basketball, because of their short stature and scheming minds!
♦ How we know that the robots didn't take our jobs.
The scary chart (the one that shows how, as a result of poor structuring of government programs, poor people can actually be worse off as a result of getting a job or a pay raise) is from this article. Honestly, how hard is it to phase out programs gradually with income so as to avoid truly stupid incentives?
♦ This critique of our current primary nomination process, may have changed the way I think about politics. This article bothers me because, on principle, I dislike pretending to have a democracy when actually the important things are settled in the cliched "smoke-filled rooms" (I've disliked the Democratic superdelegates since I first heard of them) but it seems obvious in this election that that those methods have worked better.
Also one could question whether "democracy" should really mean majority (or plurality!) rule when we are talking about the plurality of a minority (those who vote in a given party). The main way that the party establishment would like to modify raw democracy is to make the candidates more electable, which means in a way they represent the rest of the nation and make the results more democratic.
♦ How do you warn people thousands of years later about sites where radioactive waste is stored?
♦ Or for a more short term prediction about future developments: some predictions in the year 1900 about the year 2000. About as accurate as these things ever are, i.e. not terribly but a few of them score some palpable hits. (Here's a plaintext version if you find the first one hard to read.)
♦ "A Mathematician's Apology" by G. H. Hardy. Still contains a lot of truth today, although when he lumps Quantum Mechanics and Relativity in with pure mathematics, and says that at least these things can never have any use in war... well, I think we have to count that as another failed prediction.
♦ Interesting article in the NY Times about a two sets of identical twins (2 x 2 = 4) where one twin from each set was swapped at birth, and what happened after they found out.
♦ Does wishing to believe in religion put one in a better or worse position, for learning whether it is true? An interesting fictional dialogue [google books] on the subject by a Catholic author. I read this on the strength of a quotation excepted at Siris.
♦ An actual dialogue about religion at First Things, with a Catholic and Muslim, both authors, about religion and their friendship with each other.
♦ Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition … to Be Explained Fairly, a review of a book addressing anti-Catholic history.
♦ Speaking of agencies that use the methodology of inquisition (the accused must prove themselves to be innocent)... please don't call Child Protective Services on parents for trivial issues unless you hate both them and their offspring. Followup posts here, here, and [added later] here. Spoiler: happy ending.