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 from the last week

1. Alaska Air offers charter flight for solar eclipse viewing

Concerned clouds will block your view?  Why not fly above them?  (See also quite neat video from last year, below.)

2. City Emails: Christian Farmer’s Facebook Post Led to Ban From East Lansing Market

The East Lansing saga continues – MichCapCon filed an FOIA request to obtain emails related to the East Lansing / Country Mill interaction.  Not a lot that is brand new here, most remarkable thing I saw actually was EL’s mayor apparently wondering if Country Mill would be willing to *sell apples* to a same-sex couple at market. To be fair it appears to be a question – but it’s also about a distinction that has only been explained a thousand times in similar cases from where I’m standing, anyway. It’s a cultural hot button issue and yet clearly (and this is hardly the only example) people in positions are power are largely ignorant of the thinking of Christians on this topic.

Also – why did MichCapCon have to file this request?  Do genuinely local media outlets care that little?  Maybe I missed it, but it seems not uncommon on stories like this they you get better reporting from non-local courses.  A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown.

3. Our church participated in the Global Hymn Sing last Sunday

Check us out!

4. Helium shortage looms

How many people realize the helium is a non-renewable natural resource, very important for running superconducting magnets (if you’ve ever had an MRI, you’ve probably been in one).  And the blockade of Qatar is restricting the world supply.

5. Leading charity site labels top Christian organizations ‘hate groups’

Reminder that the Southern Poverty Law Center has no credibility left as any sort of non-partisan opponents of hate and the media (and everyone) should stop treating them as if they do.  It is beyond absurd to label the mild-mannered lawyers of Alliance Defending Freedom, a group that has now won 51 First Amendment cases at the Supreme Court, a hate group.  Beyond absurd.

6. How the FAA Killed Uber for Planes

But I want Uber for planes.

7. Seattle’s Minimum Wage Hike May Have Gone Too Far

A widely shared article this past week – Seattle hiked its minimum wage to $13/hr, study finds this caused the take-home pay for low-wage workers to *shrink* by an average of 6.6% because of layoffs and fewer hours worked.

This week’s post brought to you by a new placemaking project in Lansing, Michigan.

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Links from the last week

1. ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ will launch on CBS in September

Have to start out with something fun here as a Star Trek fan… did not find the trailer to be very impressive though, felt like pretty poor writing.  Perhaps reality will be better.

2. It’s so hot in Phoenix, they can’t fly planes

Physics!  Simple Physics but it is often the simple Physics that gets you.  Hotter air = less dense air = more runway needed.  Though you could make a joke here about “that’s what they get for buying Canadian aircraft” (Bombardier).

3. The Challenge of University Evangelism

This profound inarticulacy makes it hard for many students to conceive of anything like a “search for truth” that once marked the university. It also means students can (1) denounce a speaker for his beliefs and views, but (2) then say to their own critics, “No one has the right to tell anyone what is wrong for them,” and after doing both (3) see absolutely no inconsistency in this at all. To call this a conversation-stopper is putting it mildly. How does a Christian evangelist get traction, not just with moral relativists, but with moralistic moral relativists?

Great piece by Tim Keller – Christianity needs more people who take the time to understand how the culture is thinking.

4. All Roads Lead to Exclusion

On a related note…

Saying, “All roads lead to God” may make someone feel more tolerant, but it is just as intolerant as any other religious claim. Saying that is also saying, “Anyone who says only one road leads to God is wrong.”

The “tolerant” religious inclusivist has made themselves feel morally and intellectually superior, but that demonstrates the faulty nature behind those claims. You’re still telling those who disagree with you that they are wrong.

5. Alas, All Societies Have Closets

15. The reason we cannot agree on what sex is for is that we don’t agree on the answer to the question, “What is a human being for?” Meaning, “What is our purpose in life?” Is it to live in harmony with God’s will? Is it to fulfill our desires? Is it something else? Again: traditional Christianity has clear and consistent answers to these questions — and they are not the modern answers.

6. Official Country Mill complaint against City of East Lansing

A very readable 42 pages if you’re up to it – I have read it, and will be writing another post to share what I found interesting shortly.

7. Officer Stabbed in Possible Terror Incident at Michigan Airport

Flint.  Nothing profound to say about this, but just… getting very close to home.

This week’s post brought to you by a Monarch butterfly on the campus of Michigan State University.

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Some photos from a construction tour of FRIB (the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams)

This is basically just the blogification of some social media posts I’ve written, since it occurred to me some web-searchers might find these photos also interesting! Caption accuracy is not guaranteed, click the photos to make them larger. If you don’t know FRIB, it is basically a $730 million bump-out of the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL) here in East Lansing, Michigan, that will enable them to run experiments much faster… it is also a linear accelerator rather than a cyclotron. The facility is a little over half-done. And now, some photos.

Here we are about to go on the tour.

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Most of the folks with us were cyclotron operators – that is, they run the show at the NSCL. It was fun overhearing their conversations (especially about how they were going to fix stuff that breaks in the new setup!).

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Place started to feel like a bunker once you headed underground, I know where I’m going once the zombies come.

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Here is the main beamline tunnel, 35 feet below grade and about 500 feet long, which the beamline will travel through in a sort of paperclip pattern. It was nice and cool down there. The facility electrical connection is for 25 MW, more than Michigan State University’s powerplant can provide, with a 4 MW backup for cryo systems. The walls down here are 3 feet thick, the floor 4.5 feet, the ceiling 3.5 feet.

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Just another photo of the tunnel, the long pipe running down the middle will carry cryo fluids.

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This is where they’re going to lower the Stargate into the tunnel to travel to other planets. They’ll never admit it, of course. (Oh… you’re all Stargate fans.)

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Near the target areas there was a special high-density concrete, cost $1600 per cubic yard, so high in iron it would attract a magnet (as our tour guide demonstrated).

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I want to say this was a cooling control room, but note especially the renderings on the wall – our tour guide mentioned that 300 draftsmen worked on the project.

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Lots of 3000 pound, lead-lined doors about.

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I can’t remember what this room was for, but here is Bec looking professional.

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The squares will eventually be leaded-glass windows looking into the target areas.

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Final photo – and this photo doesn’t really do justice to the scale of the space. The wall on the left is 7.5 feet thick (“because we have neighbors on that side”). The facility bottoms-out about 60 feet below grade with some water storage tanks, above that is the beam dump (the last place the beam goes), and above that are the targets themselves.

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Good tour.

Historical Information on the Chesterfield Hills neighborhood of East Lansing, Michigan

When we were considering purchasing a home in the Chesterfield Hills neighborhood, I tried to find historical information about the neighborhood online and could find precious little.  To my pleasant surprise, after moving in I found the previous owner had left behind some papers that contained just what I was looking for!  So I have digitized them for the next owner-to-be browsing the interwebs.

The 1st Amd. doesn’t end at the church’s front door

Above is a photo I took this morning of a new apartment building going up in downtown East Lansing. Note the giant architectural cross built into the facade – I have to say that because I actually saw the building many times without ever noticing the cross! But apparently other people are more observant than me, because an article I read this morning implied that some residents have expressed discomfort with the feature, and suggested to the city that it might perhaps violate the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution. The building is being constructed entirely with private money, and the City Attorney has rightly replied that not only is it perfectly legal for the developers to put a giant cross on the side of their building if they want one, but furthermore that if the city tried to stop them, the city would be in violation of the 1st Amendment.

So that’s all good, but that people even complained in the first place just goes to show, I think, that some people have this idea that you are entitled to a free exercise of your religion, as long as it stays inside the walls of your place of worship or your home. But as soon as it starts leaking out into the wider world, they have a problem, and might even think you have a legal problem. (In fact, maybe you could even say that an amendment that was originally created mainly to protect the rights of religious folk from interference from the government, is now being used by some to try to justify interference from the government. So upside down is the world today.)

There be wildflowers in these parts

And have been for the last couple weeks or so. Just a couple photos from the North Tier Trail in East Lansing today:

And one from Hawk’s Nest park. They are everywhere:

Where I also saw an otter! I think. Couldn’t really see the tail.