Atheists Respond to Unwelcome Science Just Like Theists

Why Does the World Exist? Jim HoltThose at the other ideological extreme [atheists] gnashed their teeth — Marxists in particular. Quite aside from its religious aura, the new theory contradicted their belief in the infinity and eternity of matter, which was one of the axioms of Lenin’s dialectical materialism. Accordingly, the theory was dismissed as “idealistic.” The Marxisant physicist David Bohm rebuked the developers of the theory as “scientists who effectively turn traitor to science, and discard scientific facts to reach conclusions that are convenient to the Catholic Church.” Atheists of a non-Marxist stripe were also recalcitrant. “Some younger scientists were so upset by these theological trends that they resolved simply to block their cosmological sources,” commented the German astronomer Otto Heckmann, a prominent investigator of cosmic expansion. The dean of the profession, Sir Arthur Eddington, wrote that “the notion of a beginning is repugnant to me… I simply do not believe that the present order of things started off with a bang… the expanding universe is preposterous… incredible… it leaves me cold.”

—Jim Holt
Why Does the World Exist?

A Slightly Annoyed Defense of Hillary Clinton

I saw that tweet the other day. And I got a little annoyed.

Why? Because I actually don’t think it sounds like Clinton. At all. I didn’t think that a year ago. And I don’t think it now. There is a reason for that.

Clinton Has Been Very Open

Clinton has always released her taxes, her emails, her family’s foundation records, her fundraising records, her donation records, and her life’s story when asked by appropriate parties. Appropriate parties are: the American people, the government, the press, and the editors of her books.

Not once do you have a record of her refusing to release something that she felt she had a legal or ethical obligation to release.

When you have someone who is that willing to release information, you have someone not trying to hide anything. Are there times she fails to release? Yes — because we are talking about multiple tons of documents. Is there a pattern of her hiding anything? No.

Donald Trump Political Donation ScandalNow on to the bribing. Because she has released all of this information, we can go through and see if she has any record of using sketchy ways of handling business. And guess what? She doesn’t have that record. She complies with the rules even when she gets suggestions to not do so. (I’m looking at you Colin Powell.) Even when she probably should have used an Official Government Email Account™, she followed the rules for not using one.

Having been in government, I know why she used the single device. It is a decision most people in leadership have to make. And most of them hate using two or three devices. Clinton’s having it set up with her husband’s server was probably better than using gmail. But I digress.

Clinton’s Clean Donation Record

The fact is that you can trace her giving to whomever via her taxes, her family’s direct foundation, and the Clinton Foundation. You can look to see what they did with every dollar they received. You can spend months on this — just like most of the charity watchers do. And nothing — Absolutely nothing! — shows it was not above board. There was no using donation funds to buy things, no using funds to make political donations, nothing. Nada. Nichts.

Clinton does have a track record: not lying whenever she wants; not using her money to get out of scrapes; admitting fault; apologizing when she screws up…

Yet where does Justin Green, Political Editor for Independent Journal Review, start? Saying that Hillary Clinton is who first comes to mind when reading, “Rich person laundering political donation (bribe) through his foundation and hiding it on IRS filings”? And he is surprised that it is Trump?! Clinton has zero record of doing anything so unbelievably illegal and Trump is, well, Trump.

Clinton’s Track Record

Clinton does have a track record: not lying whenever she wants; not using her money to get out of scrapes; admitting fault; apologizing when she screws up; not breaking the law; not bribing public officials; not creating investment or university scams; and on and on.

So why the hell would anyone — especially a professional political editor — even conceive of writing such a statement?

Clinton has screwed up before — the Iraq war vote, using a private server that the State Department hadn’t authorized[1], most of the 2008 campaign, pushing for the use of American power when a wait-and-see approach would probably have been better. But these are policy decisions. When it comes to behavior? She doesn’t do anything wrong.

[1] This always struck me as weird, since she was in charge of it and Obama clearly knew she had the server and didn’t care.

Odd Words: Agglutinate

influenza A Virus - AgglutinateWhat an exciting day we have with page six of The New York Times Everyday Reader’s Dictionary of Misunderstood, Misused, and Mispronounced Words: Revised Edition! Although I must admit, it’s not a very good dictionary. I often have to consult other dictionaries to figure out what a word means. That’s definitely true of today’s word: agglutinate.

Offline Latin

Over the past few days, I’ve been very glad to have A Latin-English Dictionary for the Use of Junior Students. I picked it up at a thrift store years ago when I was writing a play about Latin. I have the Thirteenth Edition, which is from 1898. But it must have been a best-seller because it was up to the Twenty-fourth Edition by 1915. Regardless, it’s far more dependable than Google Translate. Of course, Latin is a late edition to the system. But you would think: Latin. That ought to be an easy one. I mean it gets Spanish and Italian and they are just Latin++. What’s the big deal?

Beyond Agglutinate

There were other interesting words. “Agio” is supposedly the fee charged by brokers to turn coin into cash. So that’s what those awful machines are charging. And it’s like 8.9 percent, which is an outrage! But this is the page that includes a personal favorite of mine: agoraphobia. Most people will never know the thrill of being freaked out by an empty parking lot!

Instead, you have have to settle for thrilling to the word “agglutinate”:

Ag·glu·ti·nate  verb  \ə-‘gloo-tən-āt\

1. (in linguistics) to form and express grammatical relationships by the continued additions of strings of meaningful elements, as in Turkish.

Date: 16th century.

Origin: Latin: agglutino, which means “to fasten to, or attach.”

Example: Let’s get together and agglutinate – and more linguistics valentines.AllThingsLinguistic

The Real Meaning of Agglutinate

Dictionary.com defines agglutination as, “a process of word formation in which morphemes, each having one relatively constant shape, are combined without fusion or morphophonemic change, and in which each grammatical category is typically represented by a single morpheme in the resulting word, especially such a process involving the addition of one or more affixes to a base, as in Turkish, in which ev means ‘house,’ ev-den means ‘from a house,’ and ev-ler-den means ‘from houses.'” So now you understand that business about Turkish!