Saturday, March 20, 2004

I always get mad when I hear people cite some scientific study somewhere that has received a chunk of government funding, and then follow it up with something like "Who on Earth needs to know that?!" The reason I get mad is that you never know what bit of scientific knowledge from one field is going to prove useful in another, such as this: findings from astronomy and particle physics could help archaeologists learn if there are secret burial chambers in the Mexican pyramids at Teotihuacan.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Interesting survey of Iraqi attitudes one year on about the occupation and the future. PDF, really worth a read.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Janet Dilbeck clearly remembers the moment the music started. Two years ago she was lying in bed on the California ranch where she and her husband were caretakers. A mild earthquake woke her up. To Californians, a mild earthquake is about as unusual as a hailstorm, so Dilbeck tried to go back to sleep once it ended. But just then she heard a melody playing on an organ, "very loud, but not deafening," as she recalls. Dilbeck recognized the tune, a sad old song called When You and I Were Young, Maggie.

Maggie was her mother's name, and when Dilbeck (now 70) was a girl her father would jokingly play the song on their home organ. Dilbeck is no believer in ghosts, but as she sat up in bed listening to the song, she couldn't help but ask, "Is that you, Daddy?"

She got no answer, but the song went on, clear and loud. It began again from the beginning, and continued to repeat itself for hours. "I thought, this is too strange," Dilbeck says. She tried to get back to sleep, but thanks to the music she could only doze off and on. When she got up at dawn, the song continued. In the months to come, Dilbeck would hear other songs. She heard merry-go-round calliopes and Silent Night. For a few weeks, it was The Star-Spangled Banner.

--- Can't get it out of my head: Brain disorder causes mysterious music hallucinations
The new Iraqi constitution is an exquisitely crafted piece of work and a total balls up.