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I thought this speech* by Condoleezza Rice at the Republican National Convention was interesting.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4g6PpIW3hPg

 

It is always fascinating to see how Americans think of themselves!

 

It's a real "city on a hill" speech, viewing the US as some beacon of hope to the world - I wonder how many people view it as a warmonger, jealous of its powers and grasping to control resources?

 

But for all the idealism she also does identify some of the major problems the US is facing and needs to tackle - resisting isolationism, staying open for immigration, advancing free trade, improving education.

 

No doubt she is partisan, but in issues of immigration, isolationism and education the right is as much of the problem as the left and so I think she is appealing to Rebublicans to moderate their policies as well as criticizing the Democrats.

 

The US is one contradictory country at the moment, and its direction will affect the wider world.

 

It's politics are totally polarized with little opportunity to meet in the middle.

 

I'm closest to a Clintonite democrat, but his triangulation of the middle ground has been pretty much lost. I despise the Republican Religious Right, but Obama isn't exactly the transformative president his billing made him out to be.

 

I think he'll still win (and would probably get my vote if I had one!), but the anger with his policies mean the extreme right is very energized to vote him out. That is polarizing US politics in a most dangerous way. The middle ground is being lost amongst the shouting, which makes having a proper debate almost impossible.

 

At least Rice has tried to row back against some of the worst xenophobic, isolationist policies the right is pushing - but it is going to be an interesting election season!

 

*Transcript here

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It's divisive, that's what it is. The question of racism now seems to be more about the division between us rather than the inclusivity of us. It worries me.  

The very first thought in my mind when I saw that picture was obesity. Whatever colour you are, there are few excuses for that.

Don’t think it’s racist to post the image, but I’d argue that the topic that they’re talking about is.  Any phrase that starts “All white people are...” is by definition stereotyping according to skin

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I love this - foxes discover they are on a trampoline!

 

They were already playing, but once they felt that bounce they just had to jump!

 

tumblr_m7i85n33ng1qdlh1io1_r1_250.gif

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Fancy learning about Genetics and Evolution?

 

Duke University in North Carolina is offering a free 10 week course on Genetics and Evolution run by Prof. Mohamed Noor sign up - its only 5 hours a week!

 

Check it out here. Classes start 10th October.

 

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The Nobel Prize for Economics has been awarded and its gone to two researchers involved in research into matching resources in stable configurations.

 

One famous example of the work is in marriage proposals to match a group of husbands and wives so that they won't be interested in having affairs!!

 

Your marriage will be stable if you (or your spouse) can't find anyone else you (or they) prefer over your partner (or you), who also prefers you (or your partner) over their partner.

 

It takes two to tango! So even if you (or your spouse) are interested in someone else, nothing will happen unless they prefer you (your spouse) over their current partner.

 

Fascinatingly given n men wanting to marry n women there will ALWAYS be at least one stable configuration where no one will want to have affairs.

 

Check out a nice demonstration of this with fancy interactive graphics - here.

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Strike an average between what a woman thinks of her husband a month before she marries him and what she thinks of him a year afterward, and you will have the truth about him. ~H.L. Mencken

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This is a pretty good TED talk (the quality has definitely become a lot more variable as it's grown!) which I recognize from the people working in the factories I've been involved with in China.

 

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And now for some silly distraction -

 

http://shipswithrudenames.tumblr.com/

 

I have to admit that The Happy Entrance, USS Chopper, SS Iron Knob, SS Lesbian, HMS Gay Bruiser, HMS Spanker and others have brought much amusement to the office this morning!

 

Isn't the internet wonderful; and our obsession with things silly, and sexual, fascinating!

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http://youtu.be/j7br6ibK8ic



I have seen this before, but when Bronowski wades into the marsh at Auschwitz and pulls up the mud made from the ash of its crematorium - containing the last remains of thousands upon thousands of people murdered there - it is a humbling moment. He is doing it in memory of his friend Leo Szilard and for the families of people murdered there. He calls on us to reject arrogance and dogma,and the belief that there is absolute knowledge, with no test in reality, and touch people. And that is what he is doing, down in the mud at Auschwitz - touching people.

"Science is a very human form of knowledge. We are always at the brink of the known; we always feel forward for what is to be hoped. Every judgment in science stands on the edge of error and is personal. Science is a tribute to what we can know although we are fallible. In the end, the words were said by Oliver Cromwell: "I beseech you in the bowels of Christ: Think it possible you may be mistaken."

Feynman also put it well:

 

Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself. The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.

 

Trying to be always aware of fallibility is an important antidote to arrogance and hubris. But Feynman helped develop the Bomb and Bronowski the maths for bombing strategies of Bomber command. Ah, life is complex.

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