Thursday, January 7, 2010

Thursday News In Review

Well, we're back. Last week we had a week off from News in Review due to the lack of any news which was not lists of "the best of the past decade." As much as I generally loathe them, I was encouraged to see film critic Roger Ebert's list of the best films of the last decade and that I am in full agreement with him over his choice for #1.

Our Main News Story:

Of course, this is the main news of the week. Computer scientist Fabrice Bellard used his desktop computer to calculate pi to nearly 2.7 trillion digits, some 123 billion more than the previous record. The previous record was set in Japan back in August, but what's remarkable about this story is that that calculation was made with a supercomputer. This one was computed by a simple desktop computer.

Varnish News:

This week, scientists have discovered the secret behind the Stradivarius. As you well know, the Stradivarius is considered by many to be the finest violins ever created. Antonio Stradivari was a violin maker in Cremona around the turn of the 1700s. There has been speculation for years that there was a secret ingredient in the varnish of the violins, most likely powdered unicorn horn, that gave the violin its tone.
Scientists took a minuscule sample from a Stradivarius and learned this week that, no, there is no secret ingredient in the varnish. The beautiful tone of the Stradivarius is apparently from the most masterful craftsmanship in human history. Perhaps another example of the old quote "significantly advanced technology will be interpreted as magic."

Crashing Things into Other Things News:

Yesterday I began to read news about a Japanese whaling ship hitting a small boat full of protesters. All I knew at the time was that the whaling ship broke the other ship completely in half and that no one was injured in the incident, but that they sure could have been. Today the activists have stated that the whaling ship intentionally rammed into them in what at least the British media is perhaps slightly sensationalisticly calling a "whale war." Which I guess would make this Whale War One.
This on the same day as the story of a Bluefin Tuna selling in Tokyo for $177,000. Why so much for a tuna, I hear you cry? Mainly because someone in this generation will most likely eat the last living one on Earth.
So, to all of my vegetarian readers, clip this whaling story for next Thanksgiving when your rancher Uncle Fred inevitably says "You know what's the problem with you environmentalists? You value animal life more than you value human life!"

Although also do bear in mind this is from a man who is going to be live tweeting cooking my very meaty chili tonight. And you can follow along with all of the action and copy my recipe here starting around 4:30 PST.

Publishing News:

An interesting book is in the works. The latest edition of the "Nietzsche Encyclopaedia," written and researched by around 150 academics, is claiming that it will show how Nietzsche's Nazi sympathizing sister had a lot more to do with what was published in Friedrich Nietzsche's name than was previously thought. The publisher claims that Nietzsche was victim to "the most insidious falsification scandal in editing history... the biggest falsifications were not limited to Nietzsche's posthumously published work The Will to Power; one can prove that even the works that Nietzsche released to the printers himself were substantially distorted by his sister."
The claim is that Nietzsche's sister actively and horribly distorted Nietzsche's original material to suit her political and ideological agendas. "The encyclopaedia now documents the extent of her alterations, some of which were made while the philosopher was still alive, though already mentally deranged, and they mostly had catastrophic consequences," Niemeyer said.
Which begs the question, probably unanswerable, in my mind: is this true or is this, in fact, academics who otherwise adore bits of Nietzsche trying to rescue the philosopher from some of the extremely regrettable material he produced? I really wonder what evidence they produce in the book. I guess we'll see when the book is published and then if it makes it to an English translation.

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