Preposterous Universe

Friday, July 30, 2004

I am back from the wilds of Wyoming, having happily scampered through the Jurassic for a few days. A full report will be forthcoming. But first I wanted to thank Gretchen for filling in while I was gone; hopefully she will post again in the future.

A lot can happen in one short week, so I just wanted to hit some high points of the events you had to endure without me.
  • The big news, my man Barack Obama hit a home run at the convention. I didn't get a chance to see the speech, which I hear was not even broadcast by the networks. Also we were staying at a ranch owned by folks who were quite hospitable, but whose politics didn't really align with mine. The first clue was the large painting of Jesus kneeling in front of the Liberty Bell. I must have missed that chapter in the Gospels. So Democratic-convention-watching wasn't one of the scheduled activities.
  • But actually, is the lack of coverage by the networks worth all of this hand-wringing? Don't most people have cable TV by now, and don't the cable networks cover the thing to death? I never understood why there was supposed to be a moral imperative for all three networks to provide essentially the exact same pictures. They could just rotate, like with the Olympics (without the dizzying rights fees).
  • Despite the Dems having apparently stage-managed the convention quite skillfully, the free speech zones are a travesty. (Images found linked at Majikthise.) Their existence is a travesty on basic philosophical grounds, but their appearance is a disaster purely on craven political grounds. I mean, barbed wire?
  • In one last bit of Hawkingiana, it's worth pointing to this statement by John Preskill about the bet he won with Hawking (found linked at Michael Nielsen's blog). Poor Preskill, who is a world-class theoretical physicist in his own right, but can only get in the newspapers by winning bets with Hawking.
  • Francis Crick passed away. Most of what I know about Crick comes from reading The Double Helix, which I'm sure isn't the most reliable source. More discussion at the Panda's Thumb.
  • Atrios unmasked! With his permission. (That's the mysterious Atrios of Eschaton, for you scientists out there.)
  • Finally, let's give some props to Allen Iverson of my beloved Philadelphia 76ers, one of only two NBA stars (along with Tim Duncan) to fulfill his initial obligation to go to Greece as part of the Olympic team. Iverson has his issues, but he has always been treated far worse than he deserved, just because of his hairstyle and tattoos. Now he's the co-captain of the Olympic team, which has to feel good.
I'm sure other interesting things "happened," but if I wasn't paying attention to them, how real can they be?

Ideas on culture, science, politics.
Sean Carroll

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