SF/F Saturday: Women Can Be Doctors Too

Well, this is long-overdue and welcome news:The BBC has cast Jodie Whittaker as the new lead of Doctor Who, making her the thirteenth actor to step into the role of the titular time traveler. Although the Doctor has had many female and non-white companions as he roams the universe, until now the show has flinched from taking the ultimate leap. It's a bold move by the showrunners that deserves to be applauded, not least for the potential it brings to tell new and different kinds of … [Read more...]

The Fountainhead: Work for Hire

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 11With Austen Heller's money flowing in, Howard Roark opens his own office:It was one large room on the top of an old building, with a broad window high over the roofs. He could see the distant band of the Hudson at his window sill, with the small streaks of ships moving under his fingertips when he pressed them to the glass. He had a desk, two chairs, and a huge drafting table. The glass entrance door bore the words: "Howard Roark, Architect."No … [Read more...]

Down With Education!

Every so often, Pew surveys the American electorate on their views of important public institutions. This year's survey found that despite being in power, Republicans are a grumpy bunch. The only major national institution that they feel positively about is churches. That's not a surprise. However, this might be:While a majority of the public (55%) continues to say that colleges and universities have a positive effect on the way things are going in the country these days, Republicans … [Read more...]

The Twilight of ISIS

I almost missed this story, but it's a big one: ISIS has been vanquished and driven out of the Iraqi city of Mosul, its capitol and the biggest city it had ruled, by an Iraqi-American coalition assault:Flanked by Iraqi forces of all stripes, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared Mosul has been recaptured from ISIS."From here, from the heart of the liberated and free Mosul, by the sacrifices of the Iraqis from all the provinces, we declare the great victory for all of Iraq and … [Read more...]

The Fountainhead: Job-Hopper

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 10John Erik Snyte excitedly tells his designers that their firm has the chance for a big, important commission. They've been hired to build a house for Austen Heller, the rich and well-connected libertarian writer (Heller is Rand's literary stand-in for H.L. Mencken, if that helps you picture him).The only complication is that Heller wants something new and different, he's already rejected proposals by three other firms, and he's picked a remote and … [Read more...]

Dystopia Journal #7: If This Be Treason

Another day, another piece of evidence that the president of the United States conspired with a foreign power:The June 3, 2016, email sent to Donald Trump Jr. could hardly have been more explicit: One of his father's former Russian business partners had been contacted by a senior Russian government official and was offering to provide the Trump campaign with dirt on Hillary Clinton.... He replied within minutes: "If it's what you say I love it especially later in the summer."Four … [Read more...]

Are Atheists Smarter than Theists?

Are atheists, on average, smarter than everyone else?It sounds unbearably smug and condescending even to ask the question this way. But whatever one's feelings about the matter, there's some evidence suggesting that this may be the case.Belief in God correlates inversely with education level, as surveys have long shown. From high school to college to grad school, as you move up the rungs of educational attainment, people are more likely to be atheists, less likely to pray, less likely … [Read more...]

The Fountainhead: Serpent’s Tooth

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 10Peter Keating is attending a party thrown by another architect, a pompous old windbag named Ralston Holcombe who designs state capitols and other monumental buildings. He secretly despises Holcombe and is only there for appearances' sake. He's glancing at his wristwatch, "calculating the time when it would be permissible to leave", when he notices another guest across the room. It's Dominique Francon:She stood leaning against a column, a cocktail … [Read more...]

Repost: Epicurus’ World

The story goes that the renowned physicist Richard Feynman was once asked to summarize the most important finding of modern science in a single sentence. Feynman replied, "The universe is made of atoms."Although there are many other scientific discoveries that are arguably of equal importance, Feynman's choice makes a lot of sense. The discovery of atoms is so familiar to us that it's easy to overlook its breathtaking significance. We know, at the smallest scale where it still makes sense to … [Read more...]

Repost: “Choose Faith in Spite of the Facts”

I usually don't think it's worth beating up on the purveyors of popular evangelical feel-goodism, for the same reason I don't get in boxing matches with life-size Jell-O sculptures. But I had to make an exception for this tweet from human tooth-whitening strip Joel Osteen:The facts may tell you one thing. But, God is not limited by the facts. Choose faith in spite of the facts.— Joel Osteen (@JoelOsteen) November 26, 2014Osteen is most famous for his surgically implanted smile … [Read more...]