Links from the last week

1. When Astronomers Chased a Total Eclipse in a Concorde

Thought this was a pretty neat story in light of upcoming events – in the 1970s, a group of astronomers used a prototype Concorde to chase a solar eclipse for 74 minutes across the Sahara.  Still kind of amazing to think about a commercial airliner flying at Mach 2.0, 55,000 feet – so fast the passenger windows were warm to the touch.

2. UPS Airlines

Yes, a Wikipedia article, but to continue the flight theme – almost sounds like a military operation.  Impressive the extent to which some of these large corporations have optimized their operations.

On every week day night, UPS designates 14 different planes at 7 hub airports to be spare aircraft ready to launch at anytime, known as hot-spares. The flight crew will preflight the empty aircraft and then wait to be launched to a gateway to rescue stranded packages, and then return flight back to a hub for sorting. Most commonly hot-spares are launched because of an aircraft mechanical issue, additional volume, or weather. Once the call is made to launch a hot-spare, the aircraft needs to be in the air within 30 minutes or less to assure the packages will make service the next day.

3. Mega Millions, Multiple Winners, and Expectations

Just some interesting math here – the calculated mean return on a Mega Millions ticket as the jackpot grows, *including data on the number of people who purchase tickets increasing as well*.  Yes, the graph does eventually go down – there is an optimal jackpot price when it comes to ticket buying!  (Of course as I say… lotteries are also a nice illustration of the difference between the median and the mean.)

4. Germany’s Newest Intellectual Antihero

Signs of the times.

Whatever becomes of Mr. Sieferle’s reputation, the scandal around him reveals certain unsuspected problems. When the German literary establishment unanimously denounced Mr. Sieferle’s work as an extremist tract, readers did not nod in agreement. They pulled out their wallets and said, “That must be the book for me.” This is a sign that distrust of authority in Germany has reached worrisome levels, possibly American ones.

5. Woman Finally Accepts Doctrine Of Total Depravity Now That Daughter Is Two

A humorous and yet, also rather real, article quoted in the sermon at our church this week.

NEW YORK, NY—Mary Eastwood, 29, says she struggled for years to accept the biblical teaching that human beings are innately corrupted by sin, preferring instead to think that people are basically good. However, now that her daughter Charlotte is right in the prime of her “terrible twos,” Eastwood has changed her mind, fully embracing and even espousing the doctrine of total depravity.

6. First Church of Intersectionality

Hard to summarize, but a good long read on the fashion in parts of academia that is quite fair, I think, to advocates of “intersectionality”.

7. Couple Opens Up About Being Banned From Farmer’s Market Over Same-Sex Marriage Views

The East Lansing saga continues.  The city claim that Country Mill somehow violated the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell continues to strike me as bizarre.  If that was actually true, they wouldn’t only be having problems with East Lansing, I’m sure.  If that was true, the city would not have had to pass a city ordinance specifically to bar them from the market.  Actually the city’s behavior on the whole, at least as reported, has felt very amateurish to me as regards this case.

This week brought to you by chipmunks in Potter Park Zoo.

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Links I liked, August 9-15 (Astrophotography, Brave New World, Biblical Anthropology)

1. An astrophotography timelapse from our East Lansing balcony

You can be in a city and still see a surprising number of stars.  Lasts about 2.5 hours (then our camera battery died), five minutes between frames, note Polaris barely moving down at the bottom middle!  (And, for a brief moment, a Perseid.)

2. “The division between politics and religion, I dare say, is an ideological ploy.”

I am reading this book.

3. The City That Unpoisoned Its Pipes

A happy story about how our beloved (yet often dysfunctional, shh) Lansing has quietly replaced nearly all of its lead water pipes.

4. Brave New World, 85 Years Later

In a post-Fordist economy and a digital age of personalized devices, mass society is no longer as straightforward as it once seemed. Far from being perceived as a threat, for instance, individuality is now deeply assimilated into our economic system, as we’re encouraged to differentiate, identify, and align ourselves through our chosen forms of consumption. The fact we’re all caught up in the same system is less obvious when we all wear bespoke chains we’ve chosen for ourselves.

5. How Global Elites Forsake Their Countrymen

Seemed like everyone passed around this article last week, but if you haven’t seen it…

But there was a fundamental problem with the decision that you can see rippling now throughout the West. Ms. Merkel had put the entire burden of a huge cultural change not on herself and those like her but on regular people who live closer to the edge, who do not have the resources to meet the burden, who have no particular protection or money or connections. Ms. Merkel, her cabinet and government, the media and cultural apparatus that lauded her decision were not in the least affected by it and likely never would be.

6. Reclaiming ‘Redneck” Urbanism: What Urban Planners Can Learn from Trailer Parks

Any discussion of trailer parks should start with the fact that most forms of low-income housing have been criminalized in nearly every major US city.

7. Biblical Anthropology

A lecture Kevin DeYoung gave in South Carolina last week.  Of especial interest to me, he talked about how his kids attend our public schools, and the message they receive at school that he feels he most often has to correct is actually the stuff they hear related to the environment. And the problem is that a model is adopted that portrays humans never as producers, but just as polluters, the Earth as a good functioning system on which humans are basically cancer cells that can only make things worse. The Christian position would be rather – in fact, humans are God’s highest creation, and meant to be creators like him on Earth. We should recycle and be careful how we live and all that – but we aren’t a cancer on the planet. Indeed the planet is a better place today, than it was 4000 years ago, because of our creative works.

8. Randy Travis – Forever and Ever, Amen

You cannot dislike this song.

This week brought to you by good times at the Great Lakes Folk Festival this past Saturday.

Capture

 

Astronomical note: Don’t miss the Perseids!

I just wanted to drop a quick reminder that one of the best meteor showers of the year is peaking this Saturday night / Sunday morning. Of course, these things don’t turn on and off like a switch, so you can try a day before or afterward if the weather will be cloudy in your area on Saturday. In fact, we saw an early Perseid last night.

Note the longer trail at center-right.

(City parks are still open late at night, right? Shh.)

If you go out at a reasonable hour (midnight is reasonable, right?), look to the northeast. The meteors will appear to come from the constellation Perseus, since that’s the direction the Earth is headed at the moment. Perseus will be below Cassiopeia, which is a “W” shaped constellation a lot of people probably find easier to spot – in fact, it’s at the top in the photo above.