RCimT: Fashionably Late Sunday Readings

Here’s yesterday’s Sunday RCimT, which is only fashionably late.

Your Cool Atheist of the Week is author Terry Pratchett of the Discworld series. The series is on my short list of books to read, as soon as I obtain a copy. Oh, and read everything else I’ve got queued up.

“I think I’m probably an atheist, but rather angry with God for not existing.” In a 1999 interview he told Anne Gay, “I’m an atheist, at least to the extent that I don’t believe in the objective existence of any big beards in the sky. That is a religious position, by the way.” He has also referred to himself as a “Victorian-style” atheist, in the sense that he rejects supernaturalism but considers himself culturally and morally Christian.

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Mildew!

We just bought a console table to put our coffee stuff and wine bottles next to the kitchen table, but to fit it, we had to move the heater one mere inch to the right. I unmounted the heater, and pulled out the molding between it and the back door — and underneath the molding, radiating from that door, was a ton of mildew and absolutely drenched drywall. Only maybe three square feet were affected, but still. Jodi and I put on masks and pulled out all the affected stuff, taking care not to cut the vapor barrier, then Jodi started calling around to figure out who we know that can help with this situation.

We thought at first that it was the result of our animals’ water dish spilling and soaking the bottom of the wall, but on closer inspection, the door trim and a chunk of that drywall along the bottom had been removed and replaced once before. Prestige Homes seals the trim to the wall with a thick coat of paint they put on before delivery, you see — when we replaced the floor in the craft room, we had to use an exacto knife to cut the paint along the top of the trim to pull it off. The trim’s paint-seal had been cut already, as had the seal along the door casing’s trim. And where that piece of drywall had been replaced, there’s even cuts in the vapor barrier, so the last fix job was obviously completely botched — probably done by the owner, whom we know to not be handy at all, rather than by a professional.

Bear in mind this house was a two-year-old Prestige home when we bought it — factory-built, therefore very likely to have been relatively water-tight. So the woman we bought it from, obviously had this problem once before. I strongly suspect that the trim was removed and then put back after the patch job. We’re going to have to replace that piece, and at least part of the trim covering the door casing. And I’d like to get someone that knows what they’re doing to look at the wood under the vapor barrier, to tell us if that wood is salvageable at all, or if it’ll all end up having to come out.

This is the exact worst time to discover mildew. We’ve already cancelled Christmas, so we can save up to do our wedding and the CONvergence trip in July. I’m kind of hoping you folks might have some ideas as to what to do to fix this right, and as cheaply as possible. Pics can be obtained, if they will help diagnose the problem.

“Topples” Relativity? Really?

A physicist from University of California by the name of Petr Hořava has postulated how to unify the theory of relativity and quantum theory — by untying space from time when you start dealing with quantum-level reactions.

[T]he problem is the way that time is tied up with space in Einstein’s theory of gravity: general relativity. Einstein famously overturned the Newtonian notion that time is absolute—steadily ticking away in the background. Instead he argued that time is another dimension, woven together with space to form a malleable fabric that is distorted by matter. The snag is that in quantum mechanics, time retains its Newtonian aloofness, providing the stage against which matter dances but never being affected by its presence. These two conceptions of time don’t gel.

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Three more bits of interesting reading

Just got back from braving the holiday shopping crowds. I got myself a housecoat. My first one ever. And I plan on wearing it all weekend — even when we visit Ron and Tanya for supper on Sunday.

Michael Geist covers OECD’s declaration that Canada is among the lowest sources of counterfeiting, despite lobbyists’ and politicians’ recent claims:

The OECD has released new data on its global counterfeiting estimates, concluding that the share of counterfeit and pirated goods in world trade is estimated to have increased from 1.85% in 2000 to 1.95% in 2007. That represents an increase to $250 billion worldwide. That is obviously a big number, but notably far lower than the claims from ACTA supporters. Copyright lobby groups have long claimed – without empirical support – that counterfeiting and piracy represents 5 – 7% of global trade. The OECD data indicates those claims are wildly exaggerated.

PalMD discusses the Ontario push toward legitimizing fake medicine:

Naturopaths like to present themselves as walking a different path to the same destination, but the truth is not so pretty. If we were to, as the naturopaths put it, help nature heal itself, we would die toothless and miserable before we hit fifty. Most of us are likely to die of either cancer, heart disease, or stroke.

Tears may have evolved as a defense mechanism — to elicit mercy from an overpowering human foe:

Humans appear to be the only creatures that shed tears as an emotional reaction. Other animals excrete tears to clean their eyes following an injury or irritation from dust, but only human beings cry in social situations as an expression of sadness or excitement. Hasson says that in a setting in which someone is threatened, a crying person unconsciously increases survival prospects, because an attacker understands that someone who is crying is defenseless and there is no reason to continue to attack.

Oh, and a bonus — photos from the LHC spin-up at CERN.