Monday, 30 September 2013

Monday quote

I would remind you to notice where the claim of consensus is invoked. Consensus is invoked only in situations where the science is not solid enough. Nobody says the consensus of scientists agrees that E = mc2. Nobody says the consensus is that the sun is 93 million miles away. It would never occur to anyone to speak that way.

Michael Crichton (1942–2008).

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Dalmanutha found?

After feeding the 4000 Jesus sent them away,
And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha. (Mark 8:10-13)
Archeologists have found a town in Ginosar valley that may be Dalmanutha.
The architectural remains and pottery suggest that Jews and those following a polytheistic religion lived side by side in the community. In addition, the researchers found that the southern side of the newly discovered town lies only about 500 feet (150 meters) away from another ancient town known as Magdala.
Interestingly some manuscripts of Mark specify Magdala instead of Dalmanutha. Whether the towns were in close enough proximity that the names were used somewhat interchangeably, or that Dalmanutha was considered a section of Magdala?

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Massive aquifers discovered in Kenya

Finding fresh water is always good news. Kenya has discovered aquifers containing several trillion litres of water. They used satelite and seismic technology to identify previous unknown water sources.
Following an extensive groundwater mapping project that incorporated satellite observations, seismic information and remote sensing, five vast aquifers have been identified hiding beneath the country's arid northern region. Preliminary estimates put the aquifers' contents at roughly 250-trillion liters of water,
They were identified in a drought area. The largest aquifer is refilled at a rate of 3.4 trillion litres per year.
Turkana hosts a minimum reserve of 250 billion cubic meters of water, which is recharged mainly by the rainfalls of the Kenyan and Ugandan highlands at a rate of 3.4 billion cubic meters per year. This new wealth of water could boost Kenya's share of available water by 17% and alone represents nearly double the amount of water that Kenyans consume today. This groundwater raises the prospect for improving the livelihoods of the Turkana people, most of whom live in poverty and have limited access to basic services and clean water.
Turkana is one of the driest regions in Kenya.

Kenya is planning further exploration.
The Government of Kenya also announced the launch of a national groundwater mapping programme that would be implemented with UNESCO, which would assist county governments in identifying and assessing their groundwater resources.
Of the manifold ways to assist the poverty stricken internationally, providing clean water must be the most useful and cost effective.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Monday quote

In ancient and medieval cultures the key issue was how people collectively could realize the true human good. In modern society the key matter is to ensure that individuals are safeguarded from interference by others as they pursue their own concerns. The problem is that this modern concern involves concern with individual rights (including the "right" to commit suicide), and an overemphasis on such individual rights has seriously damaged the concepts of community and of obligation to others.

John S. Feinberg and Paul D. Feinberg, Ethics for a Brave New World, p.207

Monday, 16 September 2013

Monday quote

As for "logic is what atheism is all about," in years of dialoguing with atheists, I honestly hadn't noticed.  If I were to be reductionistic about it, and ignore some welcome exceptions, I might have guessed that anger was what atheism was all about. Or pride. Or perhaps libido.

David B Marshall

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Fiction fabrication

The Guardian reports a survey on lying about reading books.
A recent survey of 2,000 people suggests that the majority of people pretend to have read classic books in order to appear more intelligent, with more than half of those polled displaying unread books on their shelves and 3% slipping a highbrow cover on books they'd rather not be seen reading in public.
The list (percentage of respondents lying)
  1. 1984 by George Orwell (26%)
  2. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (19%)
  3. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (18%)
  4. The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger (15%)
  5. A Passage to India by EM Forster (12%)
  6. Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien (11%)
  7. To Kill A Mocking Bird by Harper Lee (10%)
  8. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (8%)
  9. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (8%)
  10. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (5%)
Though one would ask, "Why lie?" You may end up in a conversation with someone who had read the book and show yourself ignorant of the contents. And who did they survey? Guardian readers? One quarter of all people lying about reading the book 1984 seems a little high? Further, I never assume that a book on a shelf in a house means the owner has read it. I haven't read all the books on my shelves.

Of the above I have read
  1. 1984
  2. Great Expectations
  3. Lord of the Rings
  4. To Kill A Mocking Bird
No plans on reading the others at this stage though it may be prudent to reread 1984.

Hat tip: Scribble Pad

Monday, 9 September 2013

Monday quote

I am anticipating things getting, simultaneously, much muddier and much clearer, by which I mean that it will be very clear how muddy it is.

Douglas Wilson

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Atheist fail

I was discussing with my daughter how she would approach an ambiguous sentence in literature. Specifically if there is sentence that has 2 meanings and one meaning does not make sense (by virtue of intrinsic logic or context) and the other does make sense, which sense should we attribute to the author. She correctly suggested we should give the benefit of the doubt to the author and assume the meaning that makes sense.

I then noted the penchant of some atheists to favour interpretations of Scripture that are obviously errant or create the most difficulties. This diverted to a discussion with a younger child about what atheists believe. To which my daughter stated,
If God didn't exist then they wouldn't exist; so what a fail.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Monday quote

Christ has turned all our sunsets into dawns.

Clement of Alexandria (c. 150–215)

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