Monthly Archive: January 2016

Issue 51: Snow My God…

Well the massive winter storm dubbed Jonas lived up to the hype. Here it is nearly a week after the snow started and the digging-out process is still going on. Lanes appear and disappear at random, depending on just how each particular snow removal crew tackled its job. Temperatures rise above freezing during the day causing wide-spread melting and the wet patches freeze over night snarling the next days commute. Most children remained at home during the entire week. And yet many drivers still text will driving and continue to pull stupid stunts by swerving around the more cautious drivers. It is enough to make a body say ‘Snow my God!’

Nonetheless, neither rain, nor snow, nor tons and tons of snow can keep the Blog Wyrm staff down.

Are faith and reason really at odds with one another? The ancient philosophers didn’t think so, neither did the thinkers of the high middle ages, and neither did most of the modern intellectuals… that is until relatively recently. The current mode of modern thought suggests that science has done away with faith once-and-for-all. But is there really a logical basis for this claim or is it wishful thinking? This week Aristotle to Digital shows that wishing it don’t make it so and that the complementary connection between the two is alive and well in science.

Keep the internet free and clear is a rallying cry of net neutrality. But as this week’s Common Cents discusses, finding the correct economic balance between competing needs and desires is very difficult. Unintended consequences lurk in hidden corners and negative externalities abound when trying to find a one-size-fits-all solution.

Most students learn to think of vectors as either arrows with length or as vertically-stacked lists of numbers or symbols. Certainly understanding these instances is important but it is all too common to see a kind of functional fixation develop where every vector space is equated by analogy with these two examples. This week Under the Hood shows how simple 2-dimensional matrices can form a vector space with an ‘unusual’ inner product. Just the thing to cure the ‘when the only tool who have is a hammer, every problem tends to look like a nail’ trap.

Vertigo has been hyping a new, ongoing series called Unfollow. With a Twitter, social-media theme, the story is about the experiment run by a wealthy, dying billionaire who picks 140 random characters to receive a slice of his fortune. About Comics takes a look at how it has developed so far.

Note: The early advertised column about Secret Wars will come a later date.


Issue 50: Snow, Snow, and More Snow

Two weeks in a row and the theme is the ‘end is nigh’. Last week is was due to nothing more than the melancholy that the Blog Wyrm staff was feeling for the impending end of the football season. This week the theme is caused by a more serious event – the huge snow storm aiming at the east coast.

Living near the nation’s capitol is always an adventure in weirdness but when it snows that bar is raise to a whole new level. A mere 1 inch paralyzed the are on Wednesday night. So a storm ‘of epic proportions’ is sure to cause havoc in Washington D.C. metro region and who knows for how long. Ah well…, there is nothing to do but to wait it out and put one’s faith in the providence.

So since millions will be snow-bound this weekend, what better time is there to settle in and read some stimulating articles guaranteed to keep your brain warm even if your body is cold.

Common Cents revisits the whole China question. Several months ago, we warned that the ‘China Miracle’ is nothing but a facade. This month we are grimly gratified to see that we were correct as the facade is in full crumble mode. It would have been better had we been wrong, but no luck there. Maybe one day, all of us will take that old truism to heart that tells us that there is no such thing as a free lunch.

One of the most important intellectual tools available to us is the Socratic dialog. Chronicled by Plato, a these semi-dramatic short stories introduced logic and rational thinking to Western Civilization. Unfortunately, Socrates is no more, but Peter Kreeft has taken up the role of Plato and has imagined the dialog between Socrates and a host of historic figures as a rational way of exploring the ideas of the latter. This week Aristotle to Digital reviews Kreeft’s imagined meeting between that ancient Greek wiseman and Machiavelli, the author that controversial work on practical philosophy – The Prince.

The scattering cross section is more than a useful and ubiquitous physical concept, it is a many-headed hydra – being reinvented and tweaked in numerous places. As a result of the numerous and inter-related relations, finding the essential aspect of it is difficult. This week Under the Hood argues for a modification to the physical thinking surrounding the scattering cross section as a way of uniting everything under one umbrella concept.

Finally, About Comics has a few brief words to say about the new season of Agent Carter and the implications of a certain lapel pin as a clue to what the MCU has in mind.


Issue 49: The End is Nigh…

Sorry for the dramatic title but it occurs to us at Blog Wyrm that the end is, in fact, nigh. No not the end of the world but rather then end of the 2015 football season. A mere 7 games are left of what was once a grand chaos of 32 teams playing each weekend. Gone is the complicated interplay between schedule, style, coaching, and venue. Yep, only 7 games left. The richness just isn’t there. Sigh…

Speaking of football, did you know that there is a clear link between America’s favorite sport and logic. Not sure how that is possible? Take a look at Aristotle to Digital to see how down-and-distance and score gives us insight in statistical syllogisms.

It’s a rare thing when all sides of the political spectrum begin to agree on something – a clear indication that whatever is being discussed isn’t in contention. Such a rare occurrence is happening now in relation to the Affordable Care Act. Almost everyone seems to be reaching a consensus that the laws of economics can’t be ignored no matter how good the intentions were that led to that law. Common Cents surveys these converging viewpoints and the market forces at work.

This week, About Comics reviews the ongoing Image series, The Wicked and The Divine, which asks what price fame. The series has a particularly interesting spin on this classic question when it wonders what if you were famous because you were a god?

Under the Hood finishes its look at how vector calculus maps into the language of differential forms. When the final pros and cons are weighed, it isn’t clear that this approach is worth all the effort.


Issue 48: Will It or Won’t It

I like living in a place with 4 seasons. The variety of temperatures and weather conditions, the choices in clothing and style, the distinct changes in length of day and cultural outlook – all these things add a flavor to life. Unfortunately, this winter is not cooperating. Or said better, it hasn’t discovered itself and its identity. Will it or won’t it get cold and stay there or get mild and stay there. There doesn’t seem to be much hope in that. Rather the weather has been much like a yo-yo, first up, then down, and then back up again. Pick a motif and go with it I say. Oh well, at least the weather has not seen fit to visit a disaster on my home.

And despite these minor annoyances, we at Blog Wyrm are back for new issues in a new year.

Its a common experience to find a business article in which a brick and mortar retailer is reported to be having problems because of online competition. The way many of these articles read, its only a matter of time for the last of these archaic institutions finally have the good sense to call it quits. Common Cents argues that such a day will never come because brick and mortar establishments have plenty of competitive advantages.

In what way do video game user interfaces give us insight into natural language and the interplay between how ideas are expressed and what those ideas mean? Well if you’ve played a PC-based game that has been ported to a game console, there is a treasure trove of exactly that kind of insight, provided you know how to look at it in the way that Aristotle to Digital does.

Under the Hood continues its look at how vector calculus maps into the language of differential forms. This week’s installment tackles that annoying piece of vector calculus – those pesky identities involving div, grad, and curl and more than one vector field.

Finally, About Comics takes a moment to celebrate the contributions of Jim Shooter to the comics industry. Perhaps no modern figure is as maligned or misunderstood as that man from Pittsburgh is and its about time he got some kudos for the good things he accomplished.