Nietzsche
Miscellany

Nietzsche’s Angel Food Cake

By Rebecca Coffey:

  1. Allow the angel to reach room temperature. Then kill it.
  2. Kill God. Set Him aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  4. Ecstatically whip, as if possessed by a storm-wind of freedom, 1-1/2 cups of excellent egg whites with 1/4 tsp. salt and 1-1/2 tsp. cream of tartar. Continue until peaks are as if raised to their own heights and given wings in a fine air, a robust air.
  5. Gradually add 3/4 cup sugar, about 3 tbsp. at a time.
  6. You are brilliant.
  7. Now, add 1 tsp. vanilla and 1/4 tsp. almond extract, and then sift together 1-1/4 cups flour and 3/4 cup sugar.
  8. Blend in God and the angel. Emboldened, add the egg mixture.
  9. Gaze into the überbatter. The überbatter will gaze into you.
  10. While prancing about in a frenzy of self-satisfaction and anticipation, use a rubber scraper to push the überbatter into an ungreased 10” tube pan, for it is destined to be there.
  11. Bake on a lower rack until done, usually 35-40 minutes, while reciting to the upper rack a long, convoluted anecdote about your childhood.
  12. Invert the tube pan over a bottle for a few hours. Then impetuously rap the pan. Shout, “Aha!” and slide a knife along the pan’s insides.
  13. Call what tumbles out a cake if you dare. Call it miraculous even.
  14. Eat it. It is delicate, morbid, loveable, and you will die depressed, delirious, and overweight.

From Nietzsche’s Angel Food Cake: And Other “Recipes” for the Intellectually Famished, by Rebecca Coffey

Standard
Miscellany

Cosmos: science propoganda

I’m not a big fan of science shows like the new Cosmos, and while listening to the most recent episode of the podcast Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project Norm captured my feelings perfectly. He explained that it feels a lot like science propaganda and that if there was a creationist version of Cosmos that just stated things as if they were fact that he would be totally unsatisfied with it. Cosmos suffers from the same failings.

(That’s my highly paraphrased version of Norm’s words, but you can hear the Cosmos discussion right at the start of the episode. The nub is about 4 minutes in.)

“The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”

The Neil deGrasse Tyson quote above (often simplified as “facts are true whether you believe them or not”) exhibits the same problem. It sounds compelling if you’re pro-science (as I very much am) but it’s a needlessly hostile statement to science skeptics, for whom the counterargument could just as easily be that the good thing about Christianity is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.

It also seems to grossly misrepresent the ‘truth’ of science, which isn’t that it has all the answers but that it’s a working method for being able to discover all the answers. Religion is a fixed truth and only changes (when it does) by looking backwards and reinterpreting itself. By contrast science looks forwards to learn whatever it can, updating the facts as it goes.

Standard

The Venn Diagram of Irrational Nonsense

The Venn Diagram of Irrational Nonsense by Crispian Jago. (via Boing Boing)

The curiously revered world of irrational nonsense has seeped into almost every aspect of modern society and is both complex and multifarious. Therefore rather than attempt a comprehensive taxonomy, I have opted instead for a gross oversimplification and a rather pretty Venn Diagram.

Miscellany

The Venn Diagram of Irrational Nonsense

“As such nonsensical beliefs continue to evolve they become more and more fanciful and eventually creep across the bollock borders. Although all the items depicted on the diagram are completely bereft of any form of scientific credibility, those that successfully intersect the sets achieve new heights of implausibility and ridiculousness. And there is one belief so completely ludicrous it successfully flirts with all forms of bollocks.”

Gallery
Evolution icon by Michael McMillan
Miscellany

Why I do NOT “believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution”

Paul Braterman: Why I do NOT “believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution”

A recent Harris poll asked Americans “Do you believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution?” Others more eminent have commented on the answers; I would like to comment on the question.

It would be difficult to cram a larger number of serious errors into so small a space.

The word ‘theory’ means different things to the general public and the scientific community: In common language a theory always involves speculation. In academic discourse, it means a coherent set of ideas that explain the facts.

Darwin didn’t understand evolution (or ‘natural selection’) as well as we do today: He knew nothing about mutations or even about the existence of specific genes, and so he had no idea how new variants could arise and spread. His assumption of gradualism is in contrast to later ideas such as punctuated equilibrium, and we now know that much if not indeed most variation arises through neutral drift. Thus not only do we know far more facts about evolution than Darwin could have dreamt of, but our theories, too, incorporate numerous additional concepts.

Belief implies that disbelief is an option: Some people believe that Hillary Clinton will be the next President of the United States, but no one would say they “believe” that Barak Obama is the current incumbent, because no sane person doubts it.

Evolution icon by Michael McMillan

Standard
Dripper
Miscellany

Make amazing coffee at home, even if you’re cheap and lazy

Slate’s crash course in being a B+ coffee snob.

Here’s the truth: You don’t have to be a champion barista (or aspire to be one) in order to dramatically, and quickly, improve your at-home coffee process, nor do you need to spend $500 on equipment. And the per-cup price is better, too—such that, just a few weeks into your new at-home process, you’ll have recouped the costs of your initial investments.

The only moderately expensive piece of unfamiliar equipment you will need to acquire is a conical burr grinder, which grinds beans finely and evenly (as opposed to a disc grinder, which tends to chop them in half once and call it done). Apart from that, you’ll need to acquire a dripper, a server (a glass carafe with measurement lines on it), and, if you don’t have one already, a digital kitchen scale (preferably one you can “zero-out” after placing a small cup on it, which is what you’ll put the beans in as you measure).

You really do need this stuff, because you won’t get the full benefits of a coffee’s flavor unless you’re exact about the weight of your beans and the volume of your water.
Be a B+ Coffee Snob

I always make my coffee with a dripper when I’m on holiday. It’s a total lifesaver.

Standard
Miscellany

The three levels of Climate Science Denial

Writing for Climate Progress, Joe Romm identifies three levels of Climate Science Denier:

  • CSD1: A climate science denier of the first kind simply denies basic climate science, that, say the Earth is warming or that CO2 is a greenhouse gas.
  • CSD2: Climate science deniers of the second kind say that they accept basic climate science — so they aren’t ignored by the media — but then just assert that it isn’t going to be a big deal. They usually latch on to some tiny subset of the recent literature to make this argument.
  • CSD3: A CSD3 says that they accept basic climate science but then starts making arguments that effectively deny that science. Indeed a CSD3 who is rhetorically clever often says he or she used to believe in climate science, but then supposedly looked into the matter closely and were shocked, shocked to learn that they had been misled.

I don’t know that Romm created these distinctions himself, but this is the first place I’ve seen them laid out.

Standard

The Charted Cheese Wheel

The Charted Cheese Wheel

I can’t vouch for its accuracy. The cheddar looks a little orange to me.

Miscellany

Cheese wheel infographic

A Chart of 66 delightful cheeses from around the world, assembled into one wondrous wheel. The cheeses are broken down by the animal that produced the luscious milk, and then by the texture of the resultant cheese, forming a cornucopia of cheese that range from the mild to the stinky and from the rock hard to the silky smooth.

Image
Miscellany

Our solar system turns out to be a bit of a freak

I’ve always assumed that the characteristics of our solar system would prove to be typical of most solar systems we would find throughout the galaxy.

Typical solar system?

However, that doesn’t appear to be the case at all: As of this month, we’ve discovered 884 planets, 692 planetary systems, 132 of them with more than one planet and, strange to tell, almost none of them look like us.

“So our solar system is, in some sense, a bit of a freak and not the most typical kind of system that Nature cooks up.”
Steve Vogt, astronomer, University of California

The newest explanation is that new planets don’t stay put. They move. A gassy planet will form on the far side of the frost line, orbit for a while, and then gradually move inward, pulled in closer by the star. It stops only when the sun pushes back

“It really is something that I find deeply weird. What does it all mean? I don’t know. I am certain that this single-minded emphasis on planets-in-habitable-zones is making people forget that there is still a lot of weird stuff happening out there and that we still don’t even understand the basics of how we ourselves got here.”
Mike Brown, astronomer, Caltech

Our Very Normal Solar System Isn’t Normal Anymore – npr.org

Standard
Margaret Thatcher
Miscellany

Russell Brand on Margaret Thatcher

Much has been written about the death of Margaret Thatcher, but I wouldn’t have expected some the best writing to have come from Russell Brand. A few select paragraphs:

She is an anomaly; a product of the freak-onomy of her time. Barack Obama, interestingly, said in his statement that she had “broken the glass ceiling for other women”. Only in the sense that all the women beneath her were blinded by falling shards. She is an icon of individualism, not of feminism.


I know from my own indulgence in selfish behaviour that it’s much easier to get what you want if you remove from consideration the effect your actions will have on others.


The blunt, pathetic reality today is that a little old lady has died, who in the winter of her life had to water roses alone under police supervision. If you behave like there’s no such thing as society, in the end there isn’t.
Russell Brand on Margaret Thatcher

Standard
Like, star, fav!
Miscellany

One week of Rapid Notes

I’ve been posting to Rapid Notes for one whole week now and the blog has already accumulated 20 followers and over 100 likes! Sure, a high percentage of you serial-likers are ‘look how I got rich blogging and you can too’ bloggers, but thanks all the same!

In week one I’ve written 40 posts, an about page and created a table of contents for those (myself chief amongst them) who want to explore the themes of this blog.

Why not join those 20 subscribers and follow along?

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Thanks!

Standard