Schengen?

Huh. I went to Paris this past weekend, for a wedding. By plane. And at no time did I show any identification whatsoever. What’s up with that? I thought air travel of any kind, international or domestic, required showing proof of identity? Otherwise you can just buy a ticket and transfer it to anyone, like in the old days. I guess for intra-Euro travel it’s not important anymore.

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3 months in the US

We recently got back from a 3-month whirlwind tour of the US (and a little Canada), and jetlag with 2 kids is brutal. But now we’re home in Denmark, and slowly getting back on our feet, and putting away the suitcase explosion that continues to cover our entire dining room table.

That’s it. More in 6 months.

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What’s up with the ads?

Some of you (the 3 who read this site, including myself) may have noticed there are Google ads spattered around the pages. Most noticeably, just below the header menu. Why, you ask? Mainly, it’s just an experiment. I’m curious as to how much money can be generated by hosting advertisements. I get about 50 unique visitors a day, the vast majority of which most certainly are bots. I can’t imagine otherwise.

Anyway, I think I’ve earned like $5 since July, so soon I expect to be able to quit my regular job and retire early.

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Samuel Clemens

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

– Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It

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Uncle Jay comes to Denmark

Stine and I opened the newspaper Friday morning, and on the front of the KULTUR section was a big article about the new trend of “fact checking” in American politics. The piece is entitled “The War on Facts”. And the quoted expert on the subject? None other than my uncle Jay Rosen, a leading expert on social journalism, and professor at NYU. Way to invade Denmark, Jay!

“If this continues, journalists will become irrelevant.”

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Not so junky DNA

I knew it! Back in the day (early 90’s), when I was studying biology, the word on the street was that the bulk of human DNA was “junk” filler, and probably nothing more. New research shows that all those boring repeating base pairs actually play an active role in gene expression. This is pretty awesome.

It also fits with my whole tenet about how very little we actually know about biological systems, despite what many scientists might purport. There are orders of magnitude more variables at play than we even realize, and incalculable permutations of interactions across the board. This is one of the things I absolutely love about biology — we barely know anything! (Yes, we do know quite a lot, but we’re barely scratching the surface, especially compared to many other natural sciences, save maybe cosmology.)

Science rocks!

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6 minutes

I was in New York recently, and was boasting to my friend and business partner that I could certainly run a 5:30 mile, without much training. I used to run much faster than that in high school. And I try to run longer distances (albeit dramatically slower) on a regular basis.

I’ve tried twice now in the past 3 days. First time: 6:14. Second time: 5:58.

Hubris.

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xkcd

This is great stuff, especially for nerds (like me).

Answering your hypothetical questions with physics, every Tuesday.

what-if.xkcd.com

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Mousies

B. Kliban.

Eat mousies.

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It’s fundamental

I love this letter addressed to the conservative religious radio host Laura Schlessinger, after her grossly intolerant remarks about homosexuality back in 2000:

Dear Dr. Laura,

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind him that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the specific laws and how to best follow them.

a) When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev 1:9). The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

b) I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

c) I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev 15:19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

d) Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

e) I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

f) A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an Abomination (Lev 11:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this?

g) Lev 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

h) Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev 19:27. How should they die?

i) I know from Lev 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

j) My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? (Lev 24:10-16) Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help.

Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

Your devoted disciple and adoring fan.

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