Sunday, March 8, 2015

Bag-Pourri. Or Grab-Pot. Or Something.

-- Anthony Le Donne writes in the Los Angeles Review of Books that last November's The Lost Gospel: Decoding the Ancient Text That Reveals Jesus' Marriage to Mary the Magdelene may very well be the worst Jesus book ever written. Reading his review, it's not hard to believe him (unless you happen to have scourged yourself with Philip Pullman's The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ). Regardless, expect at least one prominent newsmagazine, either online or in print, to highlight Lost Gospel as we move through Lent and close in on Easter.

-- Later biographers slammed Pope Sylvester II (999-1003) as a wizard and necromancer. Not, as you might surmise, because he caused the suffering of succotash (well, he might have), but because he used an abacus and was the first pope known to use the Arabic numeral symbols that we know today. More than that, he taught math. But, Vatican and Dark Ages and anti-science and all.

-- A couple of tourist dolts decided that the ancient Colosseum in Rome needed a little something -- their initials, about four inches high, carved into its stone. After which they took a selfie with their work. Italian authorities take a dim view of such artistic additions, even though the IQ twins damaged not the original first century structure but some repairs and additions made during the 19th. Fortunately for them, the Colosseum is merely an exhibit and tourist attraction these days rather than a functioning piece of the Roman justice system. Otherwise we'd probably be looking a something a little harsher than fines.

-- Leah Libresco, in her weekly "Seven Quick Takes" blog entry at Unequally Yoked refers to a study about the different rituals we have built up as we interact with technology. I haven't read the study myself, so I'm not sure if it includes the Laptop Discus Fling for Distance that happens when some Windows system or another locks up again, but I am sure that it will be in a later edition if it didn't make this one.

-- Tushna Commissariat writes a brief note at the PhysicsWorld blog about the "Women in Physics" conference she attended earlier this week, held in the lead-up to March 8's International Women's Day. A key speaker was Hélène Langevin-Joliot, a nuclear physicist who is also the granddaughter of Marie Curie. I'm pretty close to totes jealous, as it sounds like there was a lot of good history and physics talked and I didn't get to go. Well, London and passports and transoceanic flights and all.

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