John Oliver on the Iran deal

May 12th is the date for Donald Trump to recertify that Iran is complying with the terms of the deal negotiated between Iran and the US, Germany, Russia, China, UK, and France. Trump has been threatening to scuttle this deal previously and then grudgingly agreed to continue it but there are indications that this time he will carry out his threat, even though the other five signatories are saying they will stick with it. Israel, its lobby in the US, and the neoconservatives like newly appointed National Security Advisor John Bolton hate the deal.
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What is it with BMW drivers?

In a comment on my post about roundabouts, commenter sonofrojblake talked about the conditions under which problems can arise and how some drivers solve it and then threw in this comment about those who mess things up.

It’s a joy to see, spoiled only by the predictable selfish or oblivious asshole usually driving a BMW who is so important or in a hurry that they HAVE to gain that extra four metres by NOT letting you in.

I noted that utterly gratuitous slap at BMW drivers and wondered if any other commenters would jump to their defense. None did. This does not surprise since I long ago discovered that many people absolutely hate BMW drivers, seeing them as entitled jerks who drive as if the road belongs to them. This strong feeling has also influenced the Urban Dictionary where the top definition of ‘BMW Driver’ is:
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Add ‘golfing while black’ to the list of potential offenses

People being arrested or harassed for doing something innocuous while being black seems to be getting worse. We now have a case where a group of black women at a golf course had the police called on them for playing too slowly, a charge they vigorously denied.

Sandra Thompson and four friends met up Saturday to play a round of golf at the Grandview Golf Club, where they are all members, she told the newspaper.

At the second hole, a white man whose son co-owns the club came up to them twice to complain that they weren’t keeping up with the pace of play. Thompson, an attorney and the head of the York chapter of the NAACP, told the newspaper it was untrue.
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Fame at last! Ok, maybe not so much …

Reader Leo was kind enough to send me a link to a clip from an episode of the TV show Adam Ruins Everything, where host Adam Conover amusingly debunks commonly held beliefs, often using animations. In this clip, he looks at the relationship between Copernicus and the Catholic Church that is often portrayed as a hostile one and uses an article of mine that I published in the December 2007 issue of Physics Today to support his case.
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Let us never forget how awful Harvey Weinstein is

The lurid tales of media mogul Harvey Weinstein keep coming out. Apart from the abusive way he treated actors, the way he treated his immediate employees is also a scandal. The April 2018 issue of Harper’s Magazine has this little item. It is from a complaint filed in a New York district court against Weinstein by Sandeep Rahal who was employed as his personal assistant from 2013 to 2015, where she describes some of her ‘duties’ in that role.
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Film review: Phantom Thread (2017)

This is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad film. I cannot be clearer than that. Anyone who loved this widely praised film that garnered six Academy Award nominations (including for best picture, best actor, best director, and best supporting actress) be warned: you are going to hate this review. My instincts told me not to watch this film. I knew that it dealt with the world of high fashion, something I know little about and care even less. I knew that it was set in the world of the British aristocracy, a group that I despise as pretentious parasites. So why did I overrule my instincts and watch it? It was because Daniel Day-Lewis has acted in some good films and had said that he was retiring and I wanted to see what film he had chosen as his swan song. Also Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 91% rating and Metacritic gave it 90% so I figured that there must be something in it worth seeing.
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I’m back!

The flu-like symptoms I had lasted only about 24 hours and I am back. When I feel sick, which fortunately rarely happens, what I do is take to bed and sleep as much as I can, my only sustenance being dilute sweetened orange juice (50% juice, 50% water, plus four tablespoons of sugar for a liter of the mixture). That is the only thing that I can take that overcomes the deadened taste buds that flu causes. I avoid any medication unless the symptoms are really severe.
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No blogging, taking a sick day

Since last night I have been feeling ‘under the weather’ (a fine phrase that captures the feeling of being lethargic and achy and having a low fever without being really sick) and so have taken a break from blogging. Hopefully I will feel ‘over the weather’ (a phrase that does not exist, as far as I know, but perhaps should) by tomorrow.

The magic roundabout

Roundabouts are rare in the US (where they are called traffic circles), with traffic authorities favoring stop signs instead. Last year ago, I wrote about the so-called ‘magic roundabout’ in Swindon, UK that contains seven roundabouts looks incredibly complicated but apparently moves traffic through it very quickly and efficiently. In that post, I provided the graphic below but it does not fully capture the experience.


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What belief in hoaxes tell us about ourselves

Larry Schwartz has compiled a list of 10 golden oldies, hoaxes that took place some time ago. Some of them such as Piltdown Man and crop circles were known to me. Others such as Clever Hans I do not really consider hoaxes as much as misinterpretation, since I consider a hoax to be a deliberately created fraud. The famous War of the Worlds is listed, though other analysts have said that the stories of mass panic were highly overblown and that there was no mass rush of people into streets following the broadcast.
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