Anthropic principle and our finely-tuned Universe

Anthropic principle and our finely-tuned Universe Ethan Siegel at Starts With A Bang!

How the mis-application of the Anthropic Principle has led factions of scientists away from the search for a natural, physical explanation of our Universe, and why that’s bad for everyone.

20140105-114648.jpgImage credit: ESO / T. Preibisch, via http://www.eso.org/public/images/eso1208a/

One of the first things you notice — and it’s self-evident if you think about it — is that the Universe is full of stuff. This in itself is a wondrous thing, because it didn’t need to be that way.

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I’m not a “conservative,” I’m an 18th-century Enlightenment radical

From Charlie Martin at pjmedia.com/lifestyle/ : Does buddhism require you to be a liberal? The short answer is no ….

I don’t think it’s necessarily so. In fact, I think Buddhism, real Buddhism, is inherently more in tune with libertarian “conservative” politics. (This isn’t the place for this particular rant, but I scare-quote “conservative” because I think it’s a bad term. As I was telling someone last night, I’m not a “conservative,” I’m an 18th-century Enlightenment radical.)

Absolutely! So am I.

And regarding the rant….as usual the “liberal” progressives have managed to at once de content and blacken + distort the abstract philosophical meaning of the words conservative and liberal…as I have whined about in the past. Politicians do this to avoid being pinned down, progressives to control the message and short circuit dialogue. Going back to the discussion on political philosophy, progressives often called liberals are not at all about liberty in anything but the most puerile sense and conservatives are generally cautious, not reactionary, and are pro liberty in its more robust sense. Progressives are generally about changing human nature by government fiat.

Libertarians…the old liberals, are about core human rights, property rights, equality before the law, the rule of law, financially competent government, citizen dominated politics, de politicized + meritocratic bureaucracy and minimalist + open regulation. In other words an eighteenth century Enlightenment radical!

Missionary Creep in Egypt by Adam Garfinkle

The American Interest: Missionary Creep in Egypt by Adam Garfinkle
Simply stunning, a revelatory blog on the why the US struggles to make head or tails of what is going on in Egypt and the Middle East. It’s long and has a couple of longer links but it’s well worth it because it explains our bias so clearly, explains the Muslim middle eastern ‘socio-political-theological’ context and then shows the incompatibility of means and ends that have made such a mess of the last decade or more. If you are interested/frustrated by the unfolding mess read this article it’ll give you new context, though it won’t solve the frustration.

Review: Man of Steel

20130623-130611.jpgMy son and I went to see Man of Steel yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed it. In my opinion ‘Hollywood’ for all the damning it/they take these days is/are in fact incredibly good at making movies that the ‘public’ like me enjoy, see: Star Trek into Darkness, Iron Man III, Oblivion, etc, etc….I will agree that they are not so good at making movies that spark movements, deep introspection, change hearts, etc but the working stiffs out here in the real world can only take so much of that (near zero in my case since I suffer internet news triggered navel starring disorder class one to begin with and go to the movies to get away from the world not to get hammered from one more angle by it .)
Other reviews:
http://booksforkidsblog.blogspot.com/search?q=Man+of+Steel
http://www.npr.org/2013/06/13/189284063/steel-trap-snyders-superman-between-worlds
http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2013/06/man-of-steel-review-a-surprisingly-human-superhuman-story/
Henry Cavil …Clark Kent / Kal-El. Great choice
Amy Adams …Lois Lane. Fun to see
Michael Shannon …General Zod Great choice, great part, good man in evil cause
Diane Lane …Martha Kent Yes!
Russell Crowe …Jor-El Wow!
Harry Lennix …General Swanwick Good pick
Richard Schiff …Dr. Emil Hamilton Good pick
Christopher Meloni…Colonel Nathan Hardy Good pick
Kevin Costner …Jonathan Kent Oh Yeah!
Laurence Fishburne …Perry White Great supporting role

This is a very good movie despite what some say, though things that I think make it stand out perhaps ruin it for others. It has now been said many times, this is, at its core, a Science Fiction, not a genre Super Hero, movie and that core is very, very good. Man of Steel takes the Superman back story, fleshes it out and draws it out into a fully imagined prequel to the superhero of our childhood. This story of his birth and orphaning to Earth is striking and heart felt.

An artist without the commercial drivers of movie making and IP dollarization might have been able to stop there without much, if any, Super Hero baggage, leaving us with what might have been a timeless piece of work.

What I see as the problem is that the ‘execs’ felt they needed more than a good science fiction movie based on the Superman back story. They wanted a summer blockbuster super hero movie. So the creators gave them a summer blockbuster SciFi blow em up of the Independence Day sub genre and a Super Hero movie of the Spider-Man genre. They then proceeded to lace these pieces together with the science fiction piece, quite successfully mind you, into Man of Steel.

The three movies in one do actually make an entertaining whole with the core Science Fiction story providing gravitas. The other two parts do their thing though too often when two or three of the ‘bits’ have to overlay, things seem to get spoiled.

As said elsewhere some of the action sequences particularly around the Kent’s home town are too drawn out and there is something almost bug like about the super speed fighting that takes you out of the moment.

In the long battle scenes in ‘Smallville,’ Metropolis, even on Krypton, the humans and normal Kryptonians in the battle zone get squished/slaughtered in bushel lots with very little comment. Yet when Zod forces superman to kill him, Cal-El seems incredibly distraught, as distraught as when his adoptive father stops Clark from saving him thus revealing his super powers during late adolescence.

Related side note: My son said he was glad that the creators had not ruined the ‘reality’ of the action sequences by showing repeated miraculous saves. And though from one view it’s a bit cold from my writers perspective he is absolutely right.

There’s a lot one could say about this movie, my bottom line, if you have hesitated to go due to one review or another my suggestion is go, (see the cheap regular version like we did, it’s excellent and I’ve come to the conclusion that 3D, IMAX3D, etc are not really worth the extra price.) The theater we went to was quite well filled for mid afternoon second week with other new starts, and the folks behind us had seen the movie at least once and perhaps twice before and still seemed ready to see it again after the show.

Cheers

Dr Ben Carson, conservative health system

BY JOHN HINDERAKER IN CONSERVATISM
DR. BEN CARSON
Last Thursday’s Annual Dinner of the Center of the American Experiment. This year’s speaker fDr. Benjamin Carson, one of the most eminent physicians in the United States, whose speech at the National Prayer Breakfast made him a household name. There was a lot of excitement about Dr. Carson’s appearance, and 1,000 people, a sellout crowd, attended the dinner.

a market-based, consumer-oriented alternative that starts with expanded health savings accounts. Carson points out that 80% of an individual’s encounters with the health care system need not, and should not, involve insurance. That would be the realm of HSAs. Then, with respect to insurance, better information and the simplest forms of incentives can easily bring down costs. The truth is–this is me speaking–it wouldn’t be difficult to improve the health care system, if health care was your real concern, and you weren’t motivated mostly by a desire to increase government power.

Interesting perspective piece, this was a great statement of what I think we need for health care in the US. Just add a very basic safety net for those who are not able to save enough or unable to plan well enough for themselves, and this might not be pretty for those too lazy to do the minimal work they should to ensure coverage.

Ludwig Von Mises Austrian school economics

Was reading some Mises and ran across this very neat aphorismReference
Sane sicut lux se ipsam et tenebras manifestat, sic veritas norma sui et falsi est, (Latin). A dictum of Spinoza (1632-1677). Translation: “Indeed, just as light defines itself and darkness, so truth sets the standard for itself and falsity.”

Spinoza:

Spinoza is one of the most important philosophers—and certainly the most radical—of the early modern period. His thought combines a commitment to a number of Cartesian metaphysical and epistemological principles with elements from ancient Stoicism and medieval Jewish rationalism into a nonetheless highly original system. His extremely naturalistic views on God, the world, the human being and knowledge serve to ground a moral philosophy centered on the control of the passions leading to virtue and happiness. They also lay the foundations for a strongly democratic political thought and a deep critique of the pretensions of Scripture and sectarian religion. Of all the philosophers of the seventeenth-century, perhaps none have more relevance today than Spinoza.

Ludwig von MisesRead more at: http://mises.org/

The Ludwig von Mises Institute was founded in 1982 as the research and educational center of classical liberalism, libertarian political theory, and the Austrian School of economics. It serves as the world’s leading provider of educational materials, conferences, media, and literature in support of the tradition of thought represented by Ludwig von Mises and the school of thought he enlivened and carried forward during the 20th century, which has now blossomed into a massive international movement of students, professors, professionals, and people in all walks of life. It seeks a radical shift in the intellectual climate as the foundation for a renewal of the free and prosperous commonwealth.

Cool Coolidge

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From the Liberty Law Site: Silent Cals 6 Simple Rules

1. “Don’t hurry to legislate.”

2. Don’t promise much.

3. Economize.

4. “Don’t expect to build up the weak by pulling down the strong.”

5. The Meaning of Progress.

6. Humility.

Coolidge was not looking to return to the days of “horses and bayonets,” as Obama has joked. “We review the past,” he said, “not in order that we may return to it but that we may find in what direction, straight and clear, it points into the future.” Several of Coolidge’s speeches read like short history lessons, tracing the path of civilization from the Greeks and the Romans, to the Pilgrims and the Puritans, to Washington and Lincoln. To Coolidge, the history of western civilization culminated in the American founding.