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July 13, 2012


Odds of this being set up at the Creation Museum = 1 / (very large number....)

What's so great about a university called Whitewatersridge? Unless you're really into Clinton memorabilia . . .

Uncle Jeffy - Ha ha!

An interactive laboratory sounds very interesting indeed! What does it consis of exactly?

Link, plz! Because I *want* this!

OK, so Teh Googles has led me to the lead researcher's page. OMG, Prof. Berger, you need a web designer -- I'm having Geocities flashbacks! Call me!

But I see no actual details.

You obviously didn't click on the link to hear it pronounced in that female South African accent.

I'm assuming that this isn't going to be available to the masses cause some creationist would have his flock go online to give them a hard time. I'm hoping to be in Shanghai this fall, so I'll take a look at the museum if I can.

the second best name to give a university

For reasons that are too complicated to explicate, I've been curating/compiling/disambiguating a list of universities (well, institutions that have published a physics paper in the last 80 or so years*) and while these are both good names, I can testify with assurance that there are better ones out there.

Off the top of my head:

Dnipropetrovsk State Technical University of Railway Transport

in Ukraine - because who doesn't have a university dedicated to rail transport? That's awesome.

*Don't even get me started on the various laboratories comprising the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS).

At first blush (don't forget that part), the Creation Museum appears to be somewhat less problematic, according to my sensibilities, than I would have expected. I don't have much of a problem with people's religious faith and understanding of science informing each other, so long as what are matters of faith and what are matters of evidence remain in their proper places.

I don't really mind if someone believes evolution and the big bang were God's doing. (Not that anyone needs my approval.) I don't even mind if people fully reject evolution and the big bang on the basis of religious faith, so long as they don't expect their religious faith to invalidate scientific evidence for those of us who accept scientific knowledge on the basis of physical evidence, mathematics, logic, etc.

What I don't get or at all like is when faith is pushed as science. Science doesn't concern itself with faith, as such. It may contradict faith-based beliefs based on the evidence, but it doesn't require faith. It doesn't battle faith with faith. But, when some people of faith can't win an argument, because others don't share that faith or find it convincing, they sometimes resort to presenting matters of faith as matters of science.

The very concept of faith is belief from within, despite what other people might tell you, and even despite contradictory evidence. It is a matter of pure spiritual resolve. As soon as you feel the need to dress it up as science, AFAIAC, you've proven the weakness of your faith. (And physicist don't open churches, encouraging people to pray to the Higgs boson.)

I recall a discussion I had at a Halloween party in the late Nineties with the older brother of one of my best friends. He was going on about evolution being the only theory taught in schools as the explanation for the existence of the various known forms of life on earth. His alternate "theory" involved a "fourth-dimensional being" that (who?) wizzed around changing the DNA of living things according to some sort of plan.

He went on about what makes one thing a theory and another thing a belief. He tried to use select aspects Einstein's Theory of General Relativity to futher his theory. He complained that Einstein's theories were initially rejected, which proved that scientists were generally asses (despite the fact that the evidence overcame their skepticism). He didn't accept that time was generally considered to be the fourth dimension, as in Minkowski space, when I mentioned it in response to his fourth-dimensional DNA re-arranger. (He didn't think time was a dimension at all, because it's passage could be different in different frames of reference according to Einstein.) He rejected length contraction, which is mathematically inextricable from time dilation in Einstein's theory, when I mentioned that length, a very basic dimension, also was subject to change in different frames of reference.

It was all great fun. And my friend's brother is actually a decent guy, whom I like. And he's generally intelligent, but was, at least at the time, rather ill informed about the concepts of physics he was trying to use, not to mention a little drunk, which made two of us.

Didn't Doctor Science have a post up on "Fifty Shades of Grey" some time ago?

Roughly on technology topic, but more "oh, my ears!"


Follow the listening instructions in the BJ post before the video or you'll be fired, divorced, and set upon by social services, not to mention deaf.

hsh, I demand your friend's theories be taught in science courses in the schools, along with the left-out, left behind fact that the Brontosaurus found between the legs of South African man had a dressage saddle on its back and Nelly Belle, Pat's Jeep, was taking the long way around to cut changes in carried interest off at the pass.

The only theories about the brontosaurus acceptable for school are those of Anne Elk (Miss!).

(the second best name to give a university, after Aberystwyth

honorable mentions:
The University of Ediacara
The University of Okoboji

Ah, Hartmut, you beat me to it.

Is there no love for:

"Spearfish Normal School," the former name of what is now Black Hills State University (South Dakota)? My father used to love that name . . .

Peking University, AKA Beida, which has survived half a century at the heart of Communist China - Beijing - with its old (Wade-Giles) English version of its name still officially intact? (cf. "Peking Duck")

Any of the gloriously named universities of Thailand, starting with the oldest and best, Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok? The medium-sized central city of Phitsanulok alone boasts Naresuan University (abbreviated as Mor Nor for Mahawithayalai Naresuan) named after King Naresuan the Great - the campus contains a large statue of him; Phitsanulok College (a private college), Sirindhorn College of Public Health, Rajabhat Pibulsongkram University (also known as Pibulsongkram Rajabhat University) and the Phitsanulok campus of the Rajamangala University of Technology Lanna.

Acquiring the links to these institutions is left as an exercise for the reader. Because the writer is too damn lazy to do it.

The University of Okoboji

I used to go to summer camp near Okoboji. The dedication of the locals to the bit is remarkable (and hilarious).

Also, "Spearfish Normal School" is wonderful.

There seem to be a bunch of "Normal" schools in China and Asia; this I suppose comes from the French "Ecole Normale" but something is lost in the faux-literal translation/transliteration cognate-centric hybrid English rendering.

I'd also mention "Texas A&M in Qatar" as the one that surprised me the most (although in retrospect not so much).

I used to go to summer camp near Okoboji.

Presbyterian ? That's where I went, and learned to sing "Green Grow The Rushes" in the dining hall.

Normal schools were generally teacher education institutions. I hadn't thought of the French etymology until bob mentioned it, but the Ecole Normale was an innovation of the republicans (not the hate liberals ones, the tear down the Bastille ones) which got picked up here and in other places. Oftentimes, the 3rd state university (after University of and XXX State University) would have been a normal college, or would have been consolidated with other smaller institutions to make a 3rd state university.

@joel hanes:

Heck if I remember the name, but it was Lutheran. May have even been "Camp Okaboji" but I can't recall.

I have been researching a trip to the Arctic Ocean and I ran across a reference to the branch campus of the NWT community college system located in Toktoyaktuk, a tiny community on the edge of the Arctic Ocean.

The locals call their commuity college Tok U.

Shifting gears a bit on this open thread, I'd like to express a few thoughts on my unexpected attendance at The Wall Live at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia this past Saturday.

A college roommate of mine called me Saturday morning to tell me he was going to the show and had an extra ticket, which was mine at great discount, given that it was last minute, he wanted to sleep at my house, and that I would more or less be his chauffeur. He lives about 100 miles north-ish from me, which means about 90 miles north-ish from Philadelphia. So I live a lot closer and know my way around a lot better.

As it turns out, he has tickets that, with the extra charges and fees, cost around $280. The seats aren't together, but they are both on the field, meaning at ground level and closest to the stage. I was in an aisle seat in row 11, which meant that I could pretty much stand in the gap between my section and the next, against the barrier separating the crowd from the stage. I was all the way at one end of the stage, which was very long, but very close to the wall, itself, which stretched across most of the outfield of the stadium. (I just googled a photo, which I may actually be in, because that's right about where I was. The resolution isn't good enough to tell.)

At any rate, I was in a great spot to see not just the show, but to look back and see almost the entire crowd and stadium structure at once. And that matters.

The major theme of the show, if less major of a theme for the album The Wall, is the evil of war. Along with that, though, are the injustices that capitalism results in when some people have so much and some so little. The wall was used as a screen for projections during the show, some of which included photos of starving people in Third World countries. Other images were more abstract symbols of corporate power and greed.

I've already mentioned the ticket prices. Beyond that, the production value for the concert is greater than anything I've seen live in my life. I don't know that I'll ever see anything again that will top it. For example, a fairly large, fake WWII-era plane "flies" across the entire stadium on a cable to crash into the top of the wall, knocking several of the large, fake bricks down, followed by fireworks and fireballs - big fire balls, going maybe 60 to 80 ft into the air.

I didn't buy anything while I was at the show, but I hear a beer was $9 and a t-shirt might go for as much as $50 (and don’t forget those tickets). So it was very much a commercial endeavor, maybe obscenely so.

As I looked back over the crowd and the stadium, it just kind of struck me how much material wealth I was surrounded by. Here I am, Joe Schmo, middle class American, and I have access to this highly rarified environment, even if only for a few hours. Most of the crowd, overwhelmingly, comprised Joe Schmo, middle class Americans. This stadium was built at a cost of $458 million according to Wikipedia, so people could go to baseball games and concerts. And this show was put on at great cost so not-so-poor people could have a great sensory experience, while maybe feeling sorry for poor people. Yet, the overwhelming majority of these not-so-poor people are just regular Americans, most of whom were lucky enough to be born in the wealthiest nation ever to exist on the planet. (Not that Americans are the only ones seeing this show, but you must live somewhere with a reasonably well developed economy to see it. And, in some other countries, you might have to be further up your country’s economic ladder to afford it.)

What this all amounted to for me was a great sense of absurdity. Roger Waters is an interesting sort of guy, so maybe that was planned or, at least, acknowledged and accepted. And there were moments of poignancy in the show. One video of a little girl being surprised by her father’s return I’m guessing from Iraq or Afghanistan (I’m not jaded to these, yet, even though they’re a “thing” lately, since I never click on them on Yahoo) put tears in my eyes. It’s not that the messages didn’t make me think to myself “fnckin’ A!” much of the time, either. Photos and written profiles of war dead on all sides (even Wehrmacht) of major conflicts over the last century did nicely to illustrate the universality of loss. For example, images of Americans would fade out as images of Iraqis faded in. They’re all somebody’s loved ones, right?

But I couldn’t get away from the feeling of excess the show had. There was a time when I could just say “Wow, this is so fncking cool” without going beyond that. So much for youth, I guess.

Reading the review, I couldn't help but note:

· an 11-piece band including three guitarists to cover the David Gilmour guitar parts (from Pink Floyd)

If I could have something like "It took three only really good guitar players to replace me" on my gravestone, that would be a keeper.

Great scientific idea. Live education is the best. What kind of equipment will it use?

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