August 20th, 2012


Danube River Cruise Part I - Mostly Prologue and a Glimpse of Budapest

Monday 6 August

Got a lift from Glenn from work to the airport. We made quick progress, obtaining boarding passes, clearing security, obtaining food and a few sundries. Of these, the glasses case seems like a winner, while the neck pillows prove (at least in my case) not to live up to their hype. To skip a bit, I found that at best they provided a novel sensation while still being unable to sleep.
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The reward for staying awake was the night cruise through the city of Budapest, with its monuments, bridges, and buildings all aglow with light.

Wool 1-5, by Hugh Howey

La McInnis tipped me off to Wool, and I picked up the first 5 in the omnibus edition for the Kindle, cheap. It's great page-turning stuff, with even a few big ideas floating around. I have a few quibbles here and there with the plot and characters, but it's definitely engaging.
In a post-Whoops scenario, everyone lives in a 'silo': a huge cylindrical space burrowed down into the earth for 150 floors or so, some strata dedicated to food productions, others to power production, IT, etc. Everything is run under a rigid law, explicitly designed to keep people orderly for the long period of time until the surface becomes inhabitable again. But things start to fall apart. Although you root for the dissolution of the rigid law, there's enough subtlety in the story to make you quasi-understand the necessity of such laws.
Wool 6 is out, and I'll probably give it a look-see.

Source analysis

Yes, yes, Todd Akin said something incredibly stupid and factually wrong.

But a more fundamental problem that's cancerously eating away at rational debate in our society is that there are organizations explicitly designed to spout crap that agrees with your personal biases. And the well-established principle of confirmation bias shows that people tend to believe things that agree with their positions (and discount conflicting information).

The firehose of information that is the internet is great. If used correctly. Sadly, it also enables people who only want to confirm their own biases rather than evaluate the evidence.

#1: this goes for everybody, regardless of position. So nobody gets to be smug without doing his or her homework.

#2: if you think it's funny when people think the universe is 6,000 years old, it may seem less funny when people, like Paul Ryan, disregard climate science because it's inconvenient for the almighty dollar, or, like Todd Akin, disregard junior high health class because it's inconvenient for his position on abortion.

Education has failed in a very serious way to convey the most important lesson science can teach: skepticism.
David Suzuki