Posts Tagged ‘thank yous’

Catching Up on Thanks for Links

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

I’d like to thank a few bloggers for links and kind words. Annie of AmbivaBlog, in her post “White on Black,” wrote the following about the post I made on the eve of Obama’s inauguration: “A white guy from Texas, who remembers what segregation was really all about, celebrates the casting off of those mind-forg’d manacles represented by the election of a black president.  Especially if you are not old enough to remember what segregation was really all about, read this.” Thank you, Annie.

Jim at Stonekettle Station, in a post called “The LHC and Walter L. Wagner, Dangerously Insane (now with more nuts!),” linked to my post “Large Hadron Collider: What’s the Risk?” with the comment “Walter L. Wagner and his adherents claim the support of a ‘growing number of scientists.’ These scientists, as you might expect, are of the same cloth as Wagner himself. Some are outright frauds, nuts, and kooks. Some, while scientists, are on the fringe of actual science itself, or completely outside their area of expertise. None are actually qualified to evaluate Wagner’s alarmist nonsense, and have jumped on the bandwagon largely for the same reason Wagner has. An excellent breakdown of these people can be found at the On-screen Scientist.” Thanks, Jim.

A similar compliment (with link) was paid my LHC post by John the Scientist of the Refugees from the City Blog in his post called “The Soft Underbelly of Scientific Credentialism,” which deals in detail with the undistinguished scientific career of Otto Rössler, one of the two often-cited eleventh-hour LHC alarmists. “And finally, an awful lot of what Rössler has published in recent years looks just plain weird, even to the non scientist. I won’t go into too much detail, but I will quote the article that the anti-LHC crowd is so fond of, the one that the On Screen Scientist referred to when he took Rössler to school back in the heyday of the anti-LHC lawsuits…” Thanks, John.

Let me add that the research (mostly through the internet) that Jim, John, I, and others have done on LHC critics should have been done by the journalists who just took these anti-LHC characters at their word as being serious and worthy of respect. Without necessarily endorsing every psychological evaluation made in the above-cited blogs, I can recommend them as good references on the facts of the sometimes bizarre past activities and the grossly inflated credentials of the main LHC critics. I hope someone at CERN has become aware of this research and will make use of it during the inevitable “controversy” that will ramp up as the LHC restart approaches.

The Traditio et Virtus blog has added this blog to the blog feeds it displays. I’m not sure of the blogger’s name, but I’m guessing I should say thank you to David. The blog Ro-Theoria, which is evidently devoted to the interface between science and religion, is in Romanian, which unfortunately I am unable to read, but I would like to thank Mihai and Florin for putting my blog on its blog roll.

A Commercial (with Money-Saving Coupon), Some Thank Yous, and an Animal Identification

Friday, September 26th, 2008

First, the big news: OnScreen DNA’s price has been reduced by $30! The standard edition of OnScreen DNA is now $39, and the Pro edition, which empowers user-controlled simulations of gene transcription and DNA replication, costs $69. You can read the press release; but, if you haven’t already—just to get an idea of how much easier it is to visualize and understand DNA’s double helical structure and the chemical bonds that underly it when you have a three-dimensional model to play with—why not download OnScreen DNA Lite (it’s free)?

OnScreen DNA is a virtual model, of course, which is good from a number of standpoints. It costs a lot less than a hardware one, and it can be animated to show the essential three-dimensional details of how DNA works. If you know someone who teaches DNA at any level, please tell them about OnScreen DNA. If you’ve wanted to come to a deeper understanding of DNA and how genes work yourself, please note that it is now a lot easier and less expensive to do so.

As an extra inducement to readers of this blog to try OnScreen DNA, here’s a coupon code to save an additional $20: hs908. Just enter that code in the appropriate box on the order page to get OnScreen DNA for only $19. This won’t work forever, so don’t count on it being there a month from now. OK, commercial over.

I need to catch up on thank yous and acknowledgements. As always, another blog’s linking to this one implies no endorsement of views in either direction.

David, the Christian physicist and novelist who writes the He Lives blog, linked to Conversations in the Club of Truly Smart People. Thanks again, David. Another Dave, he of the Not the Religious Type blog, mentioned the same post favorably and linked to On the Breaking of Bad Habits Acquired in One’s Youth: Smoking and Atheism. Thank you, Dave. Ropata of the Earth is My Favorite Planet blog also linked to the Bad Habits post. Thanks, Ropata.

Denyse, a very busy Catholic journalist and author on topics of religion and science, keeps three blogs going. We have exchanged some emails, and she has added the onscreen-scientist to the blog roll of Colliding Universes, which I’d say examines physics and biology from a thoughtful Intelligent Design standpoint. She also (with comments) linked to the two previously mentioned posts related to atheism and to the one on animal suffering, Cries in the Night. Thank you, Denyse.

My post about the anti-LHC campaign, Large Hadron Collider: What’s the Risk?, coming as it did a couple of days before the first proton beam circulated in the LHC, drew more traffic than even the computer troubleshooting ones have in the past. John of the Refugees from the City blog linked to my aforementioned LHC post in two separate posts: Mixed Nuts, in which he makes a thorough exposé of the dishonestly exaggerated credentials of Walter Wagner, the main instigator of the doomsday hysteria, and also looks at Rainer Plaga’s background and work, and Whooooo Hoooooo!, which summarizes the credentials of all notable LHC opponents. Thanks, John.

I have also exchanged emails with JoWynn, who wrote to tell me how much she and her husband appreciated my Reading Proust for the Last Time post. JoWynn, in addition to being a voracious reader (including books on particle physics!), maintains a blog largely devoted to her embroidery art (Parkview 616), despite a disabling condition that confines her to one room most of the time. Thanks, JoWynn. Judy of the Reading Proust in Foxborough blog said good things about the Proust post and also linked to it. Thanks again, Judy.

Finally, I’ve decided that the predatory animal whose strange wild sounds I couldn’t identify in my Cries in the Night post was almost certainly a raccoon, based on some sounds I’ve found online. It’s funny that out of all the raccoons I’ve seen in my life, I’ve never heard one make a sound that I can remember. So, just to return to that disturbing death struggle I overheard in the middle of the night, I now imagine that it was a raccoon that had caught a squirrel. The raccoon, lacking big, powerful jaws like a dog, could have been holding the squirrel in its mouth waiting for it to die of blood loss, internal injuries, etc. The squirrel, being still alive, could have made its cries and also have mustered up the strength for a desperate struggle to escape every few minutes, which would explain the fierce raccoon sounds mixed with thrashing around that I heard periodically.

On the one hand, I’d just as soon get those sounds and speculation about what was going on out of my head, but it’s also good to have the drama linked to known animals. It changes my view of raccoons, which I had known to be scrappy fighters by reputation (able to drown dogs that were foolish enough to pursue them into the water, for example), but had never seen or heard in action.

August Thank Yous and a Pledge of (Almost) No Politics

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

It’s time I once again acknowledged some kind words and links from others in that vast and brave new world we call the blogosphere. From my tiny home planet, establishing communication with one of the millions of other bloggers out there still seems to me something like a successful SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) contact. Needless to say (well almost, or why say it?), in thanking people that have linked to this blog I am not necessarily endorsing the religious, political, or literary opinions they express on their blogs, which are, in any case, quite likely to be in disagreement with one another.

Tiffany, a librarian who loves to read and who lives in my home State of Texas, writes a blog called Considering All Things Literary. After reading Ronnie Knox, Marcel Proust, and I, she honored the On-Screen Scientist blog with a place on her list of Literary Links and Other Fun Perusings. Thanks, Tiffany.

Joe, a blogging oil field worker, writes FarSouth of I-10, which is currently following his thoughts and adventures as he makes the transition from South America to Italy. He recently added a link here with these words: “There’s Bob the Onscreen scientist that sometimes sounds like Bill Gates and other days sounds like St. Paul,” which demonstrates Joe’s ability to use ludicrous comparisons for humorous effect, while at the same time making an accurate point about the varied content of this blog. Thanks again, Joe.

The St. Paul reference was doubtless due to my recent post called On the Breaking of Bad Habits Acquired in One’s Youth: Smoking and Atheism, which caught the eye of a few bloggers who write from a Christian perspective and who linked to it. David, a physics professor and novelist who has an interesting blog (He Lives: Reformed views of a nuclear physicist) largely dealing with Christian theology and issues of science and religion, included a link to my post in a short one of his own, which link continues to bring in daily a few readers (or five-second scanners, one never knows) even a couple of weeks later. Thanks, David.

Eric posted a short note (“A physicist’s conversion from atheism to theism”) and an excerpt from the atheism post on July 23, 2008 at In the Agora, which is a group blog I’m very happy to have been noticed by. Thank you, Eric.

Josh, whose blog Quid Sit? deals with “Catholicism, Art, Culture, & Everything in Between,” linked to the atheism post with one of his own called I Kicked Them Both, Too. He noted that, though our ages were very different, our experiences were similar. Thank you, Josh. Jesse of Karate and Whatnot from VA also recommended the atheism post with a link. Thanks, Jesse.

How have other bloggers found out about this blog before linking? In a few cases, I have emailed them about some post here that I thought they might be interested in based on what I could tell from their blogs. (Every blogger should include an email address! To email me, look to the upper right portion of any page of this blog.) Others have seen a reference somewhere else. I got a digg (in the OffBeat/Odd Stuff category!) for the atheism post, which may have been the source of a link or two. Thanks, yoder. And of course bloggers read blogs, which is another possible source of links, once one has been made somewhere.

As was predictable, I guess, the atheism post was, after the computer trouble-shooting experience posts, the one that has drawn the most visitors in this blog’s short life. A good number of those visits came from a blog devoted to atheism where I had left a comment mentioning the post. I plan to tell more about the (for the most part respectful) back and forth between me and some commenters at that blog in an upcoming entry.

My intent is still mainly to avoid religion and politics here, but in writing about my life that is well nigh impossible, so religion will no doubt be touched upon from the personal standpoint from time to time. I have more or less promised to trace over time the significant steps in my path from atheism to theism, which of course are very important to me, and I hope of interest and possible benefit to others.

In politics, I am a somewhat hopeful cynic, in the sense that I hope for the best, despite my disappointment and lack of confidence in politicians and parties. I try to maintain a good deal of emotional detachment, even while being very interested in the Presidential campaign as a national and personal (for the candidates) drama. Though no longer committed to the “no support to either of the Capitalist parties” position of my radical past, I find my disinclination to become a partisan of either major party is still strong, even without the ideological basis, mainly because of what seems to be the pervasive corruption and shallowness of the two parties. Now that I think about it, I might express the danger of strong partisanship as being one of potential idolatry (worship of a man-made god), but I don’t feel I am very tempted in that direction.

It’s also hard for me to imagine myself becoming enthusiastic about an individual candidate (I tried for a while this election), though I will consider voting for a major party candidate now, which I would not have done in the past. No longer viewing political change as the potential solution to all of life’s problems, I am more willing to try to judge what seems to be the best realistic alternative at a given time, but with low expectations, mixed with hope that it won’t make too much difference who wins. I might add that I don’t view the threat of radical Islam and terrorism as a phony one concocted by the Republicans.

Who cares what I think, anyway? There are more than enough political commentary blogs for just about any political viewpoint one could wish to see, and I am not going to add another. Most people want to read political commentary they already agree with. Whatever interest this blog may have will be due to some possibly unexpected resonance my experience has with that of the reader or from some observation I make that seems more original than any I might make about politics.

More Thank Yous to Start June

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

I need to get caught up on some thank yous to sundry fellow bloggers that have taken the trouble to visit, read, and then link, sometimes with very nice compliments included on their pages. It also gives me an opportunity to point my many readers in new directions. I find the blogosphere to be so large as to be overwhelming. Looking at the virtually endless list of blogs in a blog directory can truly make me a bit sick with vague dismay. But, along with the myriad dull plastic needles in that worldwide haystack, there are many sharp ones of genuine steel, worthy of close examination and perhaps useful for spiritual mending or embroidering. I was glad to come across a few more of these, and, believe me, I appreciate the needle-grabbing magnets other bloggers have supplied to their readers in the form of links to this blog.

Christina, who runs the Everything Worth Reading monthly blog carnival (one of the few “carnivals” a themeless blog like this one can submit to), honored The Perfect Italian Woman as one of the worth-reading selections for the April 23 edition and with the Link of the Week (think she meant month) designation. Thank you, Christina.

Baseball in Normandy mainly recounts the fortunes of the Bois-Guillaume Woodchucks, an entry in the Normandy section of the French Baseball League (whose existence was a welcome discovery for me). I hadn’t heard of most of the towns in the league, but Dunkerque and Cherbourg are familiar from World War II. Chris, who is on the team’s roster and writes the blog, also occasionally reminisces about baseball in his younger days in the States. Chris refers to himself as an ex-philosopher, but how do you stop being that? A post called Best Baseball Memory and Rick Silva, which turned out to be very well written, was what drew me to his blog. I was looking for other baseball reminiscers after I’d written A Rocky Little League Start.

I emailed Chris, thinking he might be interested in my piece, and it turned out he was. He read it and liked it, so I also told him about the follow-up It’s Only One Game when it was posted. A bit later I was pleased to see a few folks coming to this blog as a result of a post of Chris’s called Introducing Bob Estes (a nom de correspondance of your On-Screen Scientist) with a link to the two Little League coaching posts. I haven’t checked on the Chucks’ fortunes in a few days. They finished in first place during the regular season and were about to begin playoffs last time I read about them. Earlier, their season had seemed in jeopardy due to the sound (like a gun shot) foul balls make hitting the slate roofs of houses (including the mayor’s) near the field. I’ve wanted to visit the D-Day Landing sites for a long time. Now I hope I can make that trip happen during the baseball season. Thank you Chris.

Helena, an Australian lady who blogs as Dysthymiac, emailed comments about the dangerous (naturally produced) drug testosterone in regard to the risky juvenile behavior recounted in my post Times I Might Have Died, which she came to having seen a comment I’d made about a beautiful photograph elsewhere. She has since read and liked Ronnie Knox, Marcel Proust, and I and has recommended it on a couple of blogs I know of. We have exchanged emails on various topics of overlapping interest (e.g., Willie Nelson, Janis Joplin, Billy Sol What’s-his-name, and the blogosphere), and she has added a blogroll-type link to here on her blog. Thank you, Helena.

Norm Geras’s links contain numerous interesting blogs. One I found that way is Far-South-of-I-10, which is written by Joe, a guy who has spent years working on oil rigs and is currently in Columbia about to move to Italy. I thought he might be interested in The Perfect Italian Woman, to which I referred him. He responded with a cordial and complimentary email. Later I saw that my post Times I Might Have Died may have given him the idea to write Dancing With Death about a truly harrowing job experience on an oil rig. Joe’s gift for humorous narrative makes the story—even if your fear of heights is as strong as mine—a pleasure to read. Thank you, Joe.

A few days ago I became aware of Sports Illustrated and Proust, another blog post that referenced my Ronnie Knox, Marcel Proust, and I piece. Seeing that I had found the 1958 reference in which Ronnie Knox mentioned Proust, Michael of Orange Crate Art decided to utilize the full Sports Illustrated online archives to see just how many times and in what way Proust had been mentioned by SI in its history. So far, no Petite Bande references in the Swimsuit issue. In one excerpt, I’m afraid an NFL player was pulling the sportswriter’s leg, but the player must at least have taken some review courses in college to be able to reel off the names that he did. Referring to his reading preferences, the player said that he couldn’t abide fiction, except for “Dostoevsky and Melville,” preferring to spend his time reading “sociology, philosophy and political thought” as found in “Proust, Hegel, Rousseau and Mill.” And above all, Kafka. I don’t mean to say that stuff’s not there in Proust in Kafka, but it’s still fiction. Thank you, Michael.

Sure, I read political and news blogs, but I don’t think the world needs another one, so I am not planning to join in. I am delighted to find other sorts of blogs in which people far and wide are writing well about things from their lives and thoughts which can be of interest to a number of people outside the small circle of family and friends—if only to a very small percentage of all internet users. May this blog come to be one of them.

Some Thank Yous and More on Ronnie Knox

Monday, April 7th, 2008

I started this blog February 27, 2008. I’ve actually had more people drop by or stumble in than I expected, and I’d like to say thank you to a few folks, as well as adding a little more information on Ronnie Knox, the Proust-reading football player I talked about in the previous post for April 1.

The first email I got (via the link near the top right) was from Jamie, who had come across The Perfect Italian Woman after it had triggered a Google alert she’d set up for any web pages relevant to a book she was writing on French women. She enjoyed the piece and was generous in her compliments. Thank you, Jamie, for the encouragement.

That was just one example of the funny ways people can end up here. The story of my unusual free-lance physics job Why Gamble? Hire a Physicist lured people that had made Google searches on “Lawrence Berkeley Lab salary negotiation,” “physicists for hire,” and “postdoc scientist.” I don’t know Valtrex how long they stuck around since I suspect they had something more practical in mind, but it’s interesting to see the unexpected directions people are coming from.

The biggest spikes in visitors to the blog occurred after I posted the long accounts of my troubles installing Windows Vista on my MacBook Pro using Apple’s Boot Camp. Most of the traffic was due to the MacSurfer’s Headline News site’s having linked to the posts. It’s nice to be able to measure traffic in the hundreds instead of in single or double digits. I still get people coming by every day to check those computer-related posts out, which is not too surprising since I dealt with a number of issues that can come up when you’re installing Vista on a Mac.

I am grateful to two Proust-related bloggers that have made less ephemeral links to the Ronnie Knox, Marcel Proust, and I post along with appreciative comments. These are Antonia of The Laws of Night and Honey and Judy of Reading Proust in Foxborough. I’ve also had an enjoyable email exchange with John of the blog Thinking It Through.

Now to more on Ronnie Knox. I found some Google excerpts from a book published in 2003 called Beyond the Xs and Os: My Thirty Years in the NFL, an as-told-to book by the pro football coach, Jim Hanifan, who had been a teammate of Ronnie’s at UC Berkeley. Jim was a junior when Ronnie was a freshman. About Ronnie’s ability he has this to say:

Ronnie was a superbly talented football player. If his old man had not fouled him up, everyone in the country, even today, would know who Ronnie Knox was. That’s how good a player he was and could have been.

Hanifan fills in some painful details of the way Ronnie’s stepfather caused problems Cytotec with every coach Ronnie had. I’ll just move on to later in the narrative, which finds Ronnie starring at football in Toronto and, according to Hanifan, also starring on a weekly television show. He provides a new slant on Ronnie’s decision to quit football.

Without any warning Ronnie just walked off the field one day and quit football. He had gotten serious with a young lady, and the two of them took off and went to Mexico.

Then, after telling of his regret at having years later missed a phone call from Ronnie, who never called back, Hanifan continues.

I heard he ended up living in Los Angeles and was homeless when he died a few years ago. I thought the world of him, and it hurts to see him gone.

I’d like to think that Hanifan might have just heard a false rumor of Ronnie’s death, but this sounds pretty definitive. I’m glad to hear how highly Hanifan thought of Ronnie, but it somehow makes me all the sadder. I’d still like to see an obituary or something just to be sure he’s really dead and possibly to fill in a little more of his last forty years. A strangely tragic figure, that Ronnie Knox.