Archive for the ‘seriously’ category

Very Serious Person Niall Ferguson Haz A Sad

October 10, 2013

Via TPM, apparently this happened on Morning Joe today:

During a segment on “Morning Joe,” conservative historian [former intellectual]* Niall Ferguson joined Scarborough to pile on Krugman. Ferguson said that Krugman lacks “humility, honesty and civility.”

“And there’s no accountability,” Ferguson said. “No one seems to edit that blog at the New York Times. And it’s time that somebody called him out. People are afraid of him. I’m not.”

Too much to do today to go all John Foster Dulles on Harvard’s Folly, but I can’t leave this without noting that if Niall’s honestly not scared of Krugman (he is), he should be.

Auguste_Delacroix,_Ramasseuse_de_coquillages_surprises_par_la_marée

Cases in point here and here and here and here.  This isn’t a fair fight.  Ferguson has the debate chops and the accent, but nothing else. Krugman has both technical skill and the willingness to engage actual data to gut the Harvard Bully Boy on the actual merits of the argument.  That Ferguson plays better on TV is his reason for being, but not a recommendation.  (BTW — for a devastating synoptic view of Ferguson’s style and (lack of) substance — and his pure nastiness in the service of the 1%, check out this overview.)

The bottom line:  how you know you’re winning?  When they talk smack about you from a very, very safe distance.

PS:  I also love the Scarborough line about some unnamed editor claiming Krugman’s column is a weekly nightmare for the paper.  I suppose it could be true, in the sense that someone might have said that to our Joe.  I kinda doubt it, but that’s the thing w. anonymous quotes.

But (a) this is how bubbles seal themselves — Scarborough’s trying to persuade himself (and viewers) that Krugman is wrong because he’s difficult…which leads to you know where.  And (b) if Joe is telling the truth, then it’s reasonable to ask the question: what so terrifying Timesfolk about Krugman’s work?  Here’s one possible answer.  It may be that Krugman’s writing discomforts the comfortable in ways that the NYT might find inconvenient.  People in power don’t like being called out; Krugman does that frequently on a very big stage.  That might inconvenience fellow cast members. (Beat that metaphor to death, why don’t you? — ed.) Those colleagues might grumble…and Joe Scarborough would run after that parked car like a loping hound.

In any event, I like anyone who makes the right enemies.  Krugman does, in spades.

*fix’t

Image:  Auguste Delacroix, Shellfishers frightened by the tide, before 1868.

Self Aggrandizement Alert + Some Kitchen Goodness In Aid Of A Friend

December 18, 2012

First — a head’s up to another one of my internet-radio conversations.  Tomorrow at 6 p.m EST I’ll be talking (live!) to David George Haskell.  David is a biologist teaching at the University of the South.  He blogs here, but the proximate reason for the interview is the publication of his book, The Forest Unseen.

The Forest Unseen is simply one of the best natural history cum science books I’ve read in years.  David’s concept — in less adept hands it would have been a conceit — was to take a single meter-in-diameter patch of old growth forest and visit it over the course of a year.

Paul_Cézanne_-_Interior_of_a_forest_-_Google_Art_Project

From those visits to what he called “the mandala” he drew essay after essay, pretty much all of them built on the idea of making a practice out of observation.  Most of the chapters in the book begin with a single point of entry into the life of the mandala, and then Haskell’s writing flows and leaps as he finds his veins of connection.  Along the way, quite gently, he leads his readers into an increasingly sophisticated understanding both of natural history side of things:  what’s there, what’s happening in that patch of forest (and through that one little scrap of land into the beyond, of course); and of the science involved, ideas from biology and ecology.  You learn a lot — I did — and it’s not until much later that you (I) realize just what a rich lode of fact and concept we’ve just taken on.

In all, a really worthwhile book — not a bad choice, if  I dare say it, to stick in somebody’s stocking in a few days.  (BTW — for more on the project, check out Jim Gorman’s article from October, published in the Grey Lady.)

Now to the kitchen goodness.  Fair warning:  what follows is a plug for something a good friend of mine is trying to do.  If you aren’t into knives, kitchens, or cooking, and/or don’t want to read about what is at bottom (and top, actually) an attempt at business, then please, get off the bus now.

OK?

So, back at the dawn of time, my friend Adam — Adam Simha — graduated from MIT rather at loose ends.   He found himself more interested in craft than formal science or engineering.  He bounced around some kitchens in town, and then found himself really looking at the tools chefs use, and then figuring out that he might have some skills and knowledge and sheer desire to see what he could do in that arena.

The result has been a number of years developing himself into an exceptional knife maker.  You can see what he does here — check out the custom knives he’s made for chef-clients, and see also the ready-made line for the rest of us.  After some years of nerving myself up to it, I finally bought one of the latter – the 10″ chefs’ knife with the black rubber (Pedro) handle.  It is, simply, the best knife I’ve ever owned, by far.

How better?  It starts sharper than the decent knives I’ve used for decades; it holds its edge longer; it sharpens more easily, and being made of better steel than any other knife I own (a Wursthof and a Sabatier for chef’s knives), it is thinner, harder, and is easier in my hands to manipulate than any big knife has a right to be.

And yeah, it costs a fair amount.  Not an utterly crazy number for something that, properly cared for, should outlast me  — Adam’s prices for his ready-mades fall in the middle of what a yuppie cooking store charges for its cutlery.  And hell, I’ve been promising myself a really good knife since we first elected Obama, and finally I just decided that this purchase was going to be my victory cigar for the re-election celebration.

An aside:  I’m not a great person with my hands, but I purely love the knowledge and history built into any good tool — plus the fact that better tools make the jobs they’re designed for easier to do.

Brooklyn_Museum_-_Still_Life_with_Fish_Scallions_and_Large_Knife_-_Totoya_Hokkei

I learned this first when I started working with good camera-people when I was just getting going as a documentary film-maker.  One of those DPs, an older guy (Bob Elfstrom,* for those of you in the business), took me aside and made sure I understood how and why he used each of the bits and pieces he needed to make his images.  Great training!  Throughout he drummed into me the necessity, the almost religious obligation, to use the best tools to do a job one could possibly acquire.  And he was right, at least in my experience.  It’s because of him that I would hire or buy really good optics when I needed to —  leaving me fewer options on location than I would have liked, sometimes, but better, in ways I could see on screen.  And as I started to cook I found I didn’t like gadgets very much, but I truly valued a good knife.  Those of you who cook (and that’s most of us, I guess) know what it’s like when you get one that fits and balances and that takes and holds an edge without fighting you for it.  That’s the context in which I’ve come to Adam’s knives, and that’s why I am posting this to try and help him realize an ambition.

What Adam’s doing now is to take what he’s developed as he’s built knives for his custom clients to come up with versionss for a larger audience.  There are a fair number of costs that go with that ambition, mostly for a build out of his shop, and he’s launched an Indigogo campaign to try to raise the necessary.  He’s got a video up there that explains what he’s trying to do better than I can.

I’m a little diffident about putting this up.  A buddy of mine is trying to get a new business off the ground, and I’m using this community platform to spread the word.  But I guess the usual answer applies. Don’t bother with all this stuff if you aren’t interested.

But even if you have no time to cook, no money for what is indeed a luxury, or just own every last bit of kitchen gear you, your kids and their kids will ever use, still, if you’d like to get just a sense of what a wonderful obsessive does when unleashed on metal-working shop, check the stuff out; if nothing else it’s fine kitchen porn.

*Among much else, Elfstrom directed and appeared as Jesus in Johnny Cash’s rarely-seen feature film Gospel Road, and he was one of the Maysles brothers’ cameramen at Altamont.  Hell of a guy to take out on the road for one’s very first film.  I’m deeply grateful to him and to John Else (my other first-cameraman) for the generosity with which they made sure I didn’t do anything irrecoverably stupid — all the while teaching me a whole lot of stuff they don’t necessarily cover in film school.  I will say, though that even some jobs later it still came as something of a shock when Al Maysles showed up (unannounced) at the end of a day’s shooting in New York.  It had been a long day, and something of a fraught one, and it was literally the last set up on the final shoot for that particular film.  I was seriously ready for the bar.  But there he was, Mr. Maysles — who, it must be said, understood exactly the state I was in (had been there once or twice himself, I reckon). In the event, he was gentle, encouraging and blessedly brief in his hellos.

Images:  Paul Cezanne, Interior of a Forest, before 1890.

Totoya Hokkei, Still Life with Fish, Scallions and Large Knife, c. 1830

Folk Song Army

April 29, 2012

A few days late, but I was moved by this event. Murderous Pam Geller hero Anders Behring Breivik has gone on record as hating a children’s song that celebrates multi-cultural tolerance and mutual good will, taking the suggestion that getting along with each other as clear evidence of the  Communist plot to upend society or some such.

Once this view became known, Norwegians responded thusly:

I know, as those of you familiar with the work this post title references, that it takes a lot more than singing to overcome the many evils that attend the ideal of a civil society.  But it never hurts — and often  helps — to perform acts to remind ourselves and the enemies of civil society that we are here, and we are not alone.  The Norwegians kicked ass here, in my humble opinion.

(Oh — and yes, I’ve noticed (as no one else has, or should) that I’ve been even more conspicuous by my absence here the last few weeks.  My day job still owns me more or less totally, and some family and fortunately minor health stuff have consumed all the free mental space left over.  But I’m not dead yet, and hope to rejoin the conversation in fits and starts as we engage the merry month of May.  Cheers all!)

All The World’s A Stage, But It Ain’t No Sitcom Out There

February 20, 2012

This is outsourced almost entirely to Wallace Shawn, who is one of those exceptionally intimidating talents who seem capable of making art and engaging ideas in almost any way he chooses.

He’s got a new book out, (that would be a new book in 2009; yes I’m that slow) which I’m about to buy, titled, simply, EssaysCommenter Arundel pointed me to this selection from that work, (an addition to the paperback) a piece published in 2011,  titled “Are You Smarter than Thomas Jefferson.”

It’s a genuinely wonderful example of essay-form, a direct descendent from the ur-specimen we credit to Montaigne.  Shawn puts on a masterly display, demonstrating  just how much power derives from the concentration of a sharply individual point of view on experience and ideas — which is the essence of the personal essay.

In this case, it’s the gaze of a man of the theater that leads us into a sequence of images and thoughts that land at a devastating moment of moral vision.Beyond the story it tells in it’s own frame, the piece captures for me some large part of why our current politics leaves me so full of dread and sorrow.

And with that, let me turn over the podium to Mr. Shawn, adding only that there’s more and better (for not being chopped and excerpted to avoid the charge of simply stealing the piece):

I’ve sometimes noted that many people in my generation, born during World War II, are obsessed, as I am, by the image of the trains arriving at the railroad station at Auschwitz and the way that the S.S. officers who greeted the trains would perform on the spot what was called a “selection,” choosing a few of those getting off of each train to be slave laborers, who would get to live for as long as they were needed, while everyone else would be sent to the gas chambers almost immediately. And just as inexorable as were these “selections” are the determinations made by the global market when babies are born. The global market selects out a tiny group of privileged babies who are born in certain parts of certain towns in certain countries, and these babies are allowed to lead privileged lives. Some will be scientists, some will be bankers. Some will command, rule, and grow fantastically rich, and others will become more modestly paid intellectuals or teachers or artists. But all the members of this tiny group will have the chance to develop their minds and realize their talents.

As for all the other babies, the market sorts them and stamps labels onto them and hurls them violently into various pits, where an appropriate upbringing and preparation are waiting for them.

If the market thinks that workers will be needed in electronics factories, a hundred thousand babies will be stamped with the label “factory worker” and thrown down into a certain particular pit. And when the moment comes when one of the babies is fully prepared and old enough to work, she’ll crawl out of the pit, and she’ll find herself standing at the gate of a factory in India or in China or in Mexico, and she’ll stand at her workstation for 16 hours a day, she’ll sleep in the factory’s dormitory, she won’t be allowed to speak to her fellow workers, she’ll have to ask for permission to go the bathroom, she’ll be subjected to the sexual whims of her boss, and she’ll be breathing fumes day and night that will make her ill and lead to her death at an early age. And when she has died, one will be able to say about her that she worked, like a nurse, not to benefit herself, but to benefit others. Except that a nurse works to benefit the sick, while the factory worker will have worked to benefit the owners of her factory….

Even those of us who were selected out from the general group have our role and our costume. I happen to play a semi-prosperous fortunate bohemian, not doing too badly, nor too magnificently. And as I walk out onto the street on a sunny day, dressed in my fortunate bohemian costume, I pass, for example, the burly cop on the beat, I pass the weedy professor in his rumpled jacket, distractedly ruminating as he shambles along, I see couples in elegant suits briskly rushing to their meetings, I see the art student and the law student, and in the background, sometimes looming up as they come a bit closer, those not particularly selected out — the drug-store cashier in her oddly matched pink shirt and green slacks, the wacky street hustler with his crazy dialect and his crazy gestures, the wisecracking truck drivers with their round bellies and leering grins, the grim-faced domestic worker who’s slipped out from her employer’s house and now races into a shop to do an errand, and I see nothing, I think nothing, I have no reaction to what I’m seeing, because I believe it all.

I simply believe it. I believe the costumes. I believe the characters. And then for one instant, as the woman runs into the shop, I suddenly see what’s happening, the way a drowning man might have one last vivid glimpse of the glittering shore, and I feel like screaming out, “Stop! Stop! This isn’t real! It’s all a fantasy! It’s all a play! The people in these costumes are not what you think! The accents are fake, the expressions are fake — Don’t you see? It’s all –”

One instant — and then it’s gone. My mind goes blank for a moment, and then I’m back to where I was…

As I said, there’s more, presented as Shawn intended.  Go read the whole thing.

Image:  Pieter Paul Rubens, The Massacre of the Innocents,  1611 or 1612.

Required Reading, MLK Day edition

January 16, 2012

I’m ashamed to say, that until Charlie Pierce in his own, powerful essay on MLK day pointed me to it, I had never actually read Lyndon B. Johnson’s speech to Congress urging — almost ordering — the legislators before him to pass the Voting Rights Act.

Here’s a sample:

But even if we pass this bill, the battle will not be over. What happened in Selma is part of a far larger movement which reaches into every section and State of America. It is the effort of American Negroes to secure for themselves the full blessings of American life.

Their cause must be our cause too. Because it is not just Negroes, but really it is all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice.

And we shall overcome.

As a man whose roots go deeply into Southern soil I know how agonizing racial feelings are. I know how difficult it is to reshape the attitudes and the structure of our society.

But a century has passed, more than a hundred years, since the Negro was freed. And he is not fully free tonight.

It was more than a hundred years ago that Abraham Lincoln, a great President of another party, signed the Emancipation Proclamation, but emancipation is a proclamation and not a fact.

A century has passed, more than a hundred years, since equality was promised. And yet the Negro is not equal.

A century has passed since the day of promise. And the promise is unkept.

The time of justice has now come. I tell you that I believe sincerely that no force can hold it back. It is right in the eyes of man and God that it should come. And when it does, I think that day will brighten the lives of every American.

For Negroes are not the only victims. How many white children have gone uneducated, how many white families have lived in stark poverty, how many white lives have been scarred by fear, because we have wasted our energy and our substance to maintain the barriers of hatred and terror?

So I say to all of you here, and to all in the Nation tonight, that those who appeal to you to hold on to the past do so at the cost of denying you your future.

This great, rich, restless country can offer opportunity and education and hope to all: black and white, North and South, sharecropper and city dweller. These are the enemies: poverty, ignorance, disease. They are the enemies and not our fellow man, not our neighbor. And these enemies too, poverty, disease and ignorance, we shall overcome.

Pierce calls this “the greatest speech an American president has delivered in my lifetime.”

Mine too.

Read it.

One last thought: One strand I draw from Johnson’s speech is that it is possible to have a politics that transcends the mere purchase and sale of interest; one in which words have both power and integrity.

I want that politics back.

Image:  Lyndon Baines Johnson with Martin Luther King on August 6, 1965, at the signing of the Voting Rights Act.

Real Americans Don’t Slop Hogs

October 25, 2011

Apropos of Doug’s post over at Balloon-Juice — on Fox’s latest defense of addiction, lung cancer and related afflictions as badges of Real ‘Murkin-ness — here’s a completely pointless appeal to actual data.  I know that this won’t make a dent in the public discourse, but I get so damn sick of being told that my 53 years of coastal life are somehow hopelessly out of the common run.

To recap: the Fox News (sic!–ed.) personage defending the Cain guy’s on-air nicotine jones argued that those living “real lives” (as opposed to my own transparently fake one) embrace the death and destruction that follow the trail of discarded butts.  First on her list of such real Americans were farmers, as opposed to that terrifying scourge, the coastal elites.

I’m a farmer’s nephew.  I have [ineptly] driven a tractor as a summer hand, when that aforesaid uncle sucked it up, made nice to my mum, and allowed me to “help” him during the harvest.  I’ve shoveled grass seed into sacks (equipped with just about the only farm implement I’m actually qualified to wield, a shovel). I got nothing but admiration for those with the gift or the capacity or the sheer stamina to farm for a living.  For myself I’m desperately glad that after my teens, I never had to work that hard with my back and hands.

In which expression of gratitude I am not alone.  The actual farm population — working farmers, not folks who live on (relatively) big patches of ground — amount to a rounding error within the total US tally: one percent or less of American workers are farmers.  Combining wheat or running cattle may be iconic.  It just doesn’t occupy very many people anymore — at least not in any industrialized society.

It’s been that way for a while.  Rural life last claimed half of the US population more than ninety years ago.  By the late 1990s, fewer than one million Americans claimed farming as their principal job.  As of 1997, just 46,000 farms out of over 2 million listed accounted for 50% of all agricultural sales.

That translates into the fact that no one — defined here as very few — actually fits the romantic image of the American family farmer anymore.  That image of a spread large enough to support a family and small enough to be run by one has not entirely vanished into myth.  But assuming, (generously) a 20% margin on sales, farm income at or above the $50,000 level flowed to fewer 10 percent of all farms, again in data from the end of the last century..

All of which is to say, as I did through all that 2008 blather about Sarah Palin’s ability to channel the experience of what was in fact a distinct minority of Americans, that Real Americans live in cities and suburbs. In fact, contra that Foxbot, half of all Americans live in coastal watershed counties.*  We may not all be elite** — but there are a whole lot of us.

Yup:  I am that guy muttering obsessively, “quantum leaps are really small.“***

*To be sure, for the purposes of that calculation, Detroit is a waterfront community.  Remember: Duluth is America’s westernmost Atlantic port.

**Though we are, of course, all above average.

***Don’t even get me started on “decimate.”

Image:  Jan van Goyen, Peasant Huts with a Sweep Well, 1633.

UPDATE: [Simulated] Cruelty to Animals as a Wingnut Theme: Truly unbelievable, and hideously funny (except for the frog) Glenn Beck monent

September 24, 2009

Update 3  (At the top, because that’s where corrections should go): This was, as I should have known, not frogicide, but performance art.  I’ve deleted the misleadingly edited clip below.  The full clip shows what the abbreviated one below does not:  that Beck tells you that the frog in the pot was a fake.  (See about 4:40 et seq.)

I should have known better; I am supposed to recognize that stories too good to check should be checked.  I apologize both to Mr Beck (not that he cares, I imagine, or can possibly be assumed to be aware of either the initial insult or this correction) and to the readers for the error.

None of this, of course, alters my opinion of the content of Mr. Beck’s commentaries — vapid, uninformed, dangerous, wrong and all the rest.  But he didn’t kill a frog to make a point

__________________

I swear I’m working on some blog magna opera, but (a) I’ve got this day job, and (b) I keep getting distracted by stuff like this:

Surely this must be a grotesque fake, a parody?

Or, FSM help us and save us, is this real?

In any event, if anyone over at Balloon Juice is listening, I say “Forget the Frog” needs to hit the dictionary.  Definition:  epithet to describe another massive wingnut fail in confrontation with the liberal bias of reality.

Update: I see this has already hit pretty much everywhere that snark lives on the intertubes.  Well, one more won’t matter.  After all, I did find watching the video coke-through-the-nose funny, even if I hated myself after.

Update 2: The more I  look at this the more horrifying it gets.  Funny as hell the first time, just watching Beck’s attempt to recover from his failed schtick/amphibicide.  But then you realize.  This ass*ole just executed a perfectly innocuous animal on screen for no damn reason at all:   “Hey guys, I’ve got this gimmick — let me kill something to show you how bad it is to be led by that deeply tanned dude in the White House.”

Useless tool. Scum.  (Fixed) Performance Artist. (Fixed by update 3.)

Why Andrew Sullivan is right about Megan McArdle, but not in the way he thinks.

July 29, 2009

I very rarely read Megan McArdle.  She gets filtered by the “life is too short to read stupid people” mesh.  Specifically, in the area in which she claims expertise, economics, especially political economy she has neither formal training (Lit degree as an undergraduate, and an MBA for post-graduate work) nor any demonstration of subsequently acquired understanding.

But, some will say, she’s got an MBA!.  Well, yes.  That and a token gets you (showing our age here –ed.) on the T.

It’s not as well known as it should be — at least for those trying to get a quick read on the knowledge and skill of unmeritedly popular pundits, but MBA courses do not teach economics as real economics departments understand the subject.

Just take a look at the MBA offered by the management program to which I am closest (at least geographically), MIT’s Sloan School.  You get a required semester of economic analysis applied to business decisions…and that’s it for the baseline experience.  If you enter the entrepeneurship track you can (but are not required) to choose a couple of electives on the economics of particular industries.  You can get a very strong background in finance if you want, which certainly expects and hones proficiency with quantitative problems — but though numbers are involved, as are thoughts about money, the problems considered are not those that lead to a deep, or even a superficial analytical understanding of the kind of problems that MIT’s top-five (some years, top one) econ. department thinks are important.

Take note of a couple of things here:  I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with business schools that base their curricula on what their graduates will need to succeed in businesses.  Economics as an academic discipline, or even as an applied social science within the wider world is not what managers and entrepeneurs use as primary tools when making decisions on an enterprise or project basis.  It’s just a fact:  B-schools teach managerial skills and the methods useful in some fairly well defined fields, consulting, management, and finance, for the most part.  Economists do something quite different, and the knowledge and methods needed to do that work are taught at a different place in the academy.  Fine so far.

But the punchline for this story is that Megan McArdle in fact knows very little — not nothing, but not much either — of the formal apparatus of modern economic thought, nor of the rich bodies of content knowledge real economists have developed on a number of important questions, including, most important for the present discussion, medical economics and political economy.

Which brings me back to my headline.  I don’t read McArdle much because I know she doesn’t know what she’s talking about, and the glibness of her ignorance and the infantile quality of her ideology (that brand of libertarianism present in populations that include my nine-year-old and that can be summed up “you can’t tell me what to do”) piss me off.  Why read annoying, uninformed –if glibly written — dreck?

But Andrew Sullivan, who is one of the most infuriatingly variable bloggers in the quality of his bullshit detector, pointed me to this post by McArdle, calling it a “must-read.”

Well, if I must, I must, and so I did.

Now, the reviews are already coming in on this essential wisdom, and they ain’t charitable.  I’m not going to take the time here to piece together the complete takedown that she deserves, but I’d like to take a few quotes and hold them up to the light.

(more…)

Texas is missing (one of its) Idiots: OMG That Man’s A Congressman Dept.

April 22, 2009

Via TPM TV:

Watch it and weep.  I mean really.  There are many reasons the GOP deserves to lose every election:  Joe Barton (R – Magic Beans) is one of them. This man shouldn’t be allowed to operate power tools, much less have 1/435 votes on matters of national and international import. Until that sporadically loyal opposition decides that minimal competence is a virtue, it will continue to earn is deserved losses.

And for his part, Steven Chu deserves a medal for not blowing coke through his nose on hearing that question.

Set Your Alarm Clocks: LHC Ends the World as We Know it at 3:30 AM EDT Tomorrow

September 9, 2008

Or not — as this post at Cosmic Variance ably discusses.

Protons fly in what is being called the first beam at the Large Hadron Collider tomorrow in the early morning, my local time.

You can watch it live here. (h/t Endgadget).

If you want to get a head start on the deal, and/or if you prefer to study the inside of your eyelids at 3:30 a.m., you can dive into the science of the LHC in a film called, appropriately “The Next Big Bang,” broadcasting tonight at 8 p.m on The History Channel.

If you do happen to see a micro black hole whizzing by, shut your eyes and it will go away.

And, by the way — I can’t tell you how happy I am to be thinking for a moment about physics rather than the person whom John Scalzi assures us must not be named. (h/t Cosmic Variance again — and I must plead as guilty as any of the other gripless folks Scalzi excoriates.)

Update:  This is why friends don’t let friends read Gregg Easterbrook.  In his weekly football column he writes:

In end-of-the-universe news, reader Jared Adkins of Silver Spring, Md., reports the European organization about to turn on a super-advanced atom smasher — see last week’s TMQ — says that if the device inadvertently creates a black hole on Earth, the black hole will “rapidly evaporate.” Why do I not find this reassuring? How much of Switzerland will the black hole take along as it evaporates?

Uhhh — you may not find this reassuring because you chose to listen to reader Adkins instead of actually reading this and its supporting report.

Money quote:

“The LHC safety review has shown that the LHC is perfectly safe,” said Jos Engelen, CERN’s Chief Scientific Officer, “it points out that Nature has already conducted the equivalent of about a hundred thousand LHC experimental programmes on Earth – and the planet still exists.”

That is, cosmic rays smashing into the earth’s atmosphere have already produced a truly unbelievable number of LHC scale collisions on just about every body in the universe, and yet strangely enough, we’re all around to check things out.

The moral of this story…ahh, you can figure it out.


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