sawesome's picture


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Comment 10 hours ago

It was rainy and cold and it appeared the ball slipped as he threw the ball. Honestly I wonder if nothing is above nit-picking.

Gosh. "It was rainy and cold, and it appeared the ball slipped as he threw the ball." Get your commas right, man!

Comment 17 Oct 2014

Personally I'd recommend discretion with Terry Brooks: his earlier works (Sword of Shannara and Heritage of Shannara) were decent, but ever since his work has been mostly regurgitate. Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman did a good job with Death Gate Cycle, and I'd strongly recommend that if you're into fantasy.

Comment 17 Oct 2014

Birm, your top selections are not terrible and do not make me angry. I was hoping someone would mention Chesterton; he was prescient. All three--Chesterton, Lewis, and Tolkien--are very rewarding in different ways. Of Lewis, Surprised by Joy is my favorite, but probably one of the least accessible of his writings. Lord of the Rings is great and makes most other fantasy look like trash by comparison (though I will concede that Tolkien was pretty bad at pacing and plot arrangement; while other authors improve on that considerably, his work is by far richer).

Copleston's History of Philosophy is multi-volumed and long, but the one volume I have on Medieval (vol 2) is worth it.

Agassi's Open is way better than I thought it would be.

Almost any of the classics from school that I've gone back to read were worth it: Tom Sawyer is hilarious. Frankenstein is great. If you haven't lately, make sure to read Wind in the Willows and A Wrinkle in Time. If you want to go back farther for a harder read, George MacDonald's Phantastes survives in cheap paperback prints because of its influence on many of the aforementioned authors.

Czeslaw Milosz is a worthwhile cultural commentator and poet. I recommend A Book of Luminous Things and Milosz's ABCs.  The Captive Mind is an interesting take on communism, and I wasn't disappointed by any of To Begin Where I Am, though I never finished it.

Ancient history is great. Pick one and go.  Recommended: Tacitus, Suetonius, Josephus, Herodotus, Thucydides. No, they're not always right, at least as far as we can reconstruct, but it's pretty amazing reading in places, and incredibly lifelike.

Comment 13 Oct 2014

Very good post Saw... but I never brought Sir IN into this discussion, as he came considerably after Copernicus.  My point was more about the 'consensus.'  In the days Copernicus and Galileo, the scientists were more often than not affiliated with the church, which made it more difficult to buck any scientific trend with new ideas.  Wouldn't you agree?  I find it concerning that even in today's world, that any REAL scientist would need to refute legitimate concerns with a theory, by citing a 'consensus.'   That should cause extreme nausea in anyone who cares about science.  The beauty of science has always been that it can be separated from religion and politics.  Sadly, this isn't always the case.

I don't know that scientists today find it any easier to buck trends: consensus is just another name for peer review. While peer review is occasionally nauseating, it's also probably a necessary fixture in the scientific method and isn't likely to go anywhere any time soon.

And while I suppose you didn't bring Newton into your argument explicitly, I think you're doing so implicitly by casting the Copernican controversy as one that pitted an heroic individual theory against prevailing consensus. Copernican ideas were not demonstrably proven until Newton: resistance to his ideas was plausible, even if it was wrong-headed. Nonetheless, Copernicus was clearly taken seriously enough for others to propose similar ideas (cf. Brahe).

It's a little naive to think that real science is somehow divorced (or should, or even can, be) from religion and politics. We cannot get from what is to what ought to be, and scientific process has always been fraught with conflicts about the world it describes--and occasionally invokes--and the world we think we should live in. Every scientist approaches the data with specific perspectives and preconceptions that inform his or her conclusions.

Comment 13 Oct 2014

Some things never change.

Brahe offered a competing model that arguably modeled the observations just as well and perhaps fit better with the prevailing understanding of the universe. It really is more complicated people putting on blinders.  What is obvious in retrospect is not always so obvious when you're going through it. Copernicus' theory could not explain how or why the earth moved, or why people didn't perceive that motion.

The idea that the same laws applied to celestial objects and terrestrial seems patently obvious to you today, but it was over a hundred years (1543-1687) before Newton published Principia and put matters more or less to rest. And he had to invent calculus to explain some of the finer problems. Copernicus' contemporaries weren't stupid: they just weren't as bright as Newton.

Comment 13 Oct 2014

There was a scientific consensus in 1582 that the planets, the sun and the stars all rotated around the Earth.  Galileo challenged the consensus with logic, facts, and an ever-growing hunger for TRUTH.

There were legitimate problems with the Copernican model.  Keep in mind that heliocentrism implies that the universe is many orders of magnitude bigger than originally thought.  Back in the 1500s, people understood how big numbers were, and heliocentrism implies a universe that's absurdly huge. That's one of the reasons that Aristarchus, et al. lost: it made the universe incomprehensibly big.

At the same time, Isaac Newton wasn't even born yet (Galileo died almost a year before Newton was born). We knew about how big the earth was (that was pretty well established), but we couldn't describe how to move something that big (no theory of gravity). We might think of this as a bit inconsistent, but we also really had no idea about how massive stars and other planets were.

So while there were some legitimate issues with how Copernicus and Galileo were treated by their scientific contemporaries, it probably wasn't entirely due to people blindly holding to their positions against the Divine Light of Science.  There were credible objections that we can pretty easily dismiss today; but we usually backport Newton's genius into earlier ages, as though it's a trivial thing to understand gravity and invent calculus to explain the motion of planets.

Comment 10 Oct 2014

One might stipulate that the minimum "salary" for a college athlete includes room and board and tuition. But I'd question whether loss leaders like golf or hockey would be jettisoned entirely in a pay-the-athletes environment. Football and basketball subsidize many of the other sports, and one wonders how a non-amateur model would impact scholarship availability for those in revenue-draining sports. I suppose it's relatively difficult to draw conclusive numbers, but I'm willing to guess that there are only a few names with sufficient cachet out of the scholarship athletes to justify their relatively hefty price tag to the University.

I think opening the can of worms that is paying players like they're employees is the sort of thing that will undo whatever notion of "college" remains in "college football." While the romanticism of college ball has been perhaps overwhelmed by burgeoning TV contracts and booster money, I'm not sure that the solution is to give up and drown it. We don't need a divorce from college football, just some counseling.

Comment 08 Oct 2014

I wouldn't go so far, but I don't know that the issues are necessarily opposed. Winning certainly does hide a multitude of wrongs (not quite sure how else you explain 2-10-1, honestly), and it probably quiets the complainers. Ideally we'd strive for just stewardship of our athletic programs regardless of the record. The mandate from fans, though, seems to be that winning is all that really matters.

Dave Brandon appears to have an image problem, and Hoke just doesn't seem to be a good coach, whatever his good-guy credentials are. I suspect that Brandon is nonetheless a better AD than some give him credit for, and that UM would return to its winning ways if a credible coach was hired with minimal hysterics.

Problematically, the present culture is a bit toxic (and apparently intoxicating), and I'm not sure that any hire is going to meet with success in the unreasonable time frame demanded by a 24-hour news cycle and ready access to alcohol.

Comment 08 Oct 2014

I think the question is more of trends in general rather than scenario comparison.  Brandon may have mismanaged the department, but it's a valid question to ask whether the general growth of the department (both in personnel and salaries) and decline in sales are in line with a general trend. 

The Michigan economy has trailed Ohio's for some time, and economic malaise and losing go a long way. Brandon's management may be inappropriate in some cases, but if Hoke were winning games I doubt we'd be having this conversation.

Comment 08 Oct 2014

Would second that most of the problem up north is losing.

Comment 08 Oct 2014

Somewhat unrelated, but Samuel Beckett used to drive Andre the Giant to school because he was too big for the bus.

Comment 08 Oct 2014

Then again, I've never been to Louisiana...

I'll link it to avoid violating the 11W commenting policies, but there is a more nuanced take on LA politics from the late 50s/early 60s that's worth a read. I mention this mainly because I suspect that our perspectives on the South are tinged in no small part by gross generalizations of the sort that plague coastal perceptions of the Midwest, what with its lack of culture, country bumpkins, and rust.

I think the only regions of the country that really deserve their reputation are probably California and New Jersey.

Comment 10 Sep 2014

You must have missed the news bulletin that Purdue's athletic department was declaring bankruptcy while Greenpeace was recording large anonymous donations.