Archive for November, 2015

Gifts in Kind 

Saturday, November 21st, 2015

If anything is sillier than demanding "original receipts" for purchases on behalf of an organization it must be the idea of doing likewise for "gifts in kind" - especially since many such gifts are of items purchased so long ago that any receipt would probably have faded into illegibility if not actually dissolved into dust. […]

Original Receipts 

Saturday, November 21st, 2015

I am a member of an organization whose Finance Committee has been advised to require "original receipts" for all reimbursement requests (and also for "gifts in kind"! But I'll get to that second bit of nonsense later). Now it should be obvious that the idea is made ridiculous by the fact that most vendors will […]

Mythical Myths #47-50 Spinach&Popeye

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

This is cool because it has several components. That the iron content of spinach is a myth is itself a myth is just the starting point of a fascinating investigation of a number of related myths about how the confusion first came about and then came to light (some of which are themselves actually true and […]

"Good Reasons"

Sunday, November 15th, 2015

  In a review of Vaclav Smil's books on global energy use, Tim Maly at The Atlantic, after explaining the virtual impossibility of transitioning to low energy density primary power sources in time to avert potentially catastrophic global warming, tells us that: We know how to make nuclear reactors and hook them up to the grid, but Americans […]

Do Pigments "Have" Colour?

Sunday, November 8th, 2015

A recent article in The Atlantic piqued my interest but left me very much unsatisfied as to what, if anything, underlies the "pantone" system. So I decided to Google for more info. The second reference I found was a lot quicker and less "gushy" in getting to the point (or at least to the point […]

Is Bio-Degradation of Plastics Really a Good Thing?

Saturday, November 7th, 2015

According to conventional wisdom (as expressed in 'Seriously,Science?' at We all know that plastic is generally terrible for the environment because it doesn’t biodegrade, and just sits in landfills. But why is having carbon locked up in relatively small known locations (rather than oxidized and maybe even methanized into the atmosphere and/or distributed widely […]

Can neuroscience explain consciousness?

Friday, November 6th, 2015

I think I would define consciousness in purely computational terms and I don't think I'd make it dependent on the specific structure in which the computation takes place. eg, perhaps: "An entity is said to be 'conscious' if its state changes according (at least in part) to a computational process in which the input data includes […]