7 Quick Takes (5/27/11)


This week, I’ve been guestblogging at Daylight Atheism about when, if ever, mockery and ridicule is a productive part of interfaith debate.  You can check out parts one, two, and three at Daylight Atheism.

After the week ends, I’ll be tying some of those ideas back into the discussion we’ve been having here about whether there are any victimless sins–whether it’s always wrong to feel hate.


I was going to write legitimate quick takes, I swear, but Scott Pilgrim versus the World came on late tonight when I was starting, and my brother and I got sucked in, so I’m just dipping into the list of awesome links I’ve had in queue for a while and free associating. Would it make it up to you if I stick the Scott Pilgrim trailer in here?


Someone made pillows shaped like common statistical distributions!

My cup runneth over.


The BBC forges a bronze sword using ancient techniques (h/t Gizmodo).



And appropos of that last one, I don’t know if any of the rest of you read Muse magazine when you were growing up (or had a subscription for your children), but, hands down, my favorite article they ever ran was the attempt to research and recreate Damascus steel.


Knowing how to forge Damascus steel (in theory, anyway) has upped my enjoyment of George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones (I’ve joined the book club at The League of Ordinary Gentlemen).  Every time they mention valyrian steel, which I suspect is an in-world analogue, I drift off, imagining myself at a forge.


And to wrench this series of takes back to the theme of things that delight me…  Jen mentions in this week’s Quick Takes that she plans to read a biography of John Adams (and I hope it’s the David McCulloch one!).  I’d just like to pause to share my favorite story from Adams’s life (aside that he, like me, left books all over the floor).

When Adams went to get inoculated against small pox, he and other patients were bled extensively and drank mercury until they were very weak.  This certainly didn’t boost efficacy, but doctors had to inflict these debilitating treatments because no one believed something as mild as an inoculation could be an adequate defense against such a loathsome disease.  People expected a potent remedy to have equally extreme side effects.

Now, if I’ve converted you to disease-nerdiness, you ought to check out The Demon in the Freezer or Pox: An American History for more fascinating storied about smallpox, or I suppose you can head to Jen’s blog to check out the rest of the Quick Takes!

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  • Michael Haycock

    Haha! I also remember the Damascus steel article quite fondly! 🙂

  • I cannot stop looking at those pillows! Ahhhh!! Fantastically nerdy.I read The Demon in the Freezer years ago and loved it enough to re-read it and then read The Hot Zone by the same author.You've probably already seen them, but Think Geek sells plush microbes. No smallpox, though!

  • Those pillows give me nightmares – statistics was never my area of math. 🙂 Those microbes that Louise posted though are my sister's favorite!