February 4th, 2015

#4562: I'd like to agree, but the premise is wrong.

Advice Goddess links a piece about the way islam stifles creativity. Her blockquote starts talking about the medieval era, in Europe, and citing the oft-cited canard about how the Church stifled all progress until the Renaissance.

Problem: it's not true.

We like to portray the interregnum as a dark, beknighted period of superstition and regression, but it simply ain't so. Plenty of learning and invention took place, else the Renaissance would not have had the foundation it had.

Much of the learning and invention took place at monasteries because that's where the books were, and that's where the educated people were. You have to be able to read in order to study scripture, and because Latin was still universal among educated people in Europe a monastery was a natural place for scientific convocations to occur: everyone there spoke Latin. All the books were in Latin (or most of them) and it was the universal language both of religion and science for hundreds of years. The Church--far from attempting to quash scientific exploration--supported it.

If the Church had tried to quash it, someone would have tried to rid the world of all that troublesome knowledge by getting rid of the books, and there would not be thousands of pages of writings from medieval scientsts.

But islam in the early 21st century is an entirely different animal than Christianity in the medieval era. In the first place, islam is not a religion so much as it is a totalitarian political system with a thin veneer of religion on top; totalitarian systems do not innovate and islam is no exception. The average muslim is discouraged from knowing anything other than the koran, and even the well-educated are careful to subject everything they do to islamic law. That's why you have female muslim doctors refusing to examine an injured boy's testicles. (I sure wish Google's site search function still worked. I'd really like to be able to link the story, but looking through 4,500 posts to find the one with the story is beyond the scope of work for this document. Sorry.)

What holds islam back is not the fact that it's a religion with rules, because it's not, but the fact that it's a political system run by people who regard any deviation from its strictures as a capital offense.

* * *

So, yesterday I had the grand idea to make chili for dinner. Mrs. Fungus hadn't woken up yet (she had been up very late with leg pain from her fibromyalgia, unable to sleep, and in fact didn't finally get to sleep until mid-morning) so I made a command decision and got to work. I got out the usual six-quart saucepan and started with onions, then ground beef, then tomato paste and beans and-and-and....

...and by the time we went to bed last night, the entire pot was gone.

The one thing I did differently this time was to take a can of Rotilla diced tomatos with chili peppers, and dumped that in along with the tomato paste and beans. I'm going to be doing that again, because the chili came out very tasty.

Obviously.

I'm used to having leftovers when I make a pot of chili!

* * *

The other thing I did last night was to dig into the morasse downstairs, just a little bit. I ended up taking a regular-sized bag full of trash out, not a contractor bag, but it's progress.

The target for last night was a handful of boxes of junk from my bedroom, stuff I'd boxed up ages ago and stuck down there. I reduced four boxes to two, and was pretty pleased with my progress--it's better than nothing--but progress stalled when I realized that the desk I was clearing had more than that kind of junk on it.

One of the things I tossed was a 5/8" thick stack of write protect stickers. I'm talking about the little black stickers, about 3/8" by 3/4", which were used to cover the write-enable notch of a 5.25" floppy disk. (And 8" disks before them.) I had a thick stack of sheets of these things, about 25 or so per sheet, and I am never, never, ever going to use them. C'mon--when was the last time I put a 5.25" disk into a disk drive? Was it 1996? 1998? Certainly I have done nothing of the sort in the 21st century!

Another thing I tossed was a butane soldering torch that has never worked. I tried filling it, and it lit all right, but the telltale hissing from the fill port--it was leaking, so I tossed it.

Then I delved into my filing cabinets. I didn't get as much done there as I'd wanted, but in the bottom drawer I found some things I couldn't part with and dumped the rest of it.

The curious bit: I found a Seagate 120 MB drive, and brought it upstairs to plug into the interface so I could see if anything was on it. It would not spin up when the USB cable was plugged in. Guess its implementation of the IDE standard is too old for that. I may have to plug the thing into the old Celeron machine, Escaflowne, in order to find out what's on it. (If anything.)

I also found a PCI IDE card, though; maybe I could stick that in El-Hazard and get at the drive that way. Can't hurt to try, I suppose.

The rest of the stuff on the desk--some of it is stuff I can't summarily toss, and some is books; I'll have to figure out where to put it. Once that desk is clear, though, I can set up El-Hazard on it, get the spare office chair in front of it, and have my Monk's Cell.

* * *

Pot is not as bad for you as tobacco is! I could probably--without much effort--dig up all sorts of studies from the 1950s talking about how safe tobacco is.

No, I don't believe pot is somehow magically better for you than tobacco.

* * *

This, if replicated, has some interesting implications for the laws of physics. Slowing down photons is nothing new--there are several ways to do it--but reducing the speed of photons in free space is an entirely different ball of wax. If they have done this--if it's not all because of experimental error--then something highly interesting is going on here, and I look forward to hearing more.

...but it is most likely to be experimental error.

* * *

Last night the washer threw another belt. Luckily I was down there working on my project, so I was able to stop the thing before it stank up the entire house. I bit the bullet and ordered a new main bearing for the thing--$45 shipped--and when it arrives I get to spend a day installing it. I hope that will fix the thing for good and all.

I'll also have to go buy another belt, of course. I'll try the hardware store first, this time, since I know what size I need (4L320) and it's closer than the other place is.

Ain't it fun! Whee!!!