Sunday, July 07, 2013

Well Done Andy Murray

Although I am not a fan of Andy Murray (Roger Federer is my player of choice) he must be congratulated for winning his first Wimbledon title - the first by a Brit in 77 years (maybe the poms can shut up about that now....they are real-broken records in this department). The game seemed like the longest straight set victory on record with both players struggling in the service department. Novak Djokovic clearly had an off day, and is still in my opinion a better player than the Scot. Nevertheless the Djokovic-Murray rivalry promises much with the entire sport being the real winner in the future if such competition persists.

Barack Obama and the Demise of the US Space Program

It amazes me how so many in the scientific community have fallen in lock step behind Barack Obama. In fact its not uncommon to hear scientists describe Obama as a president who truly understands Science. Yet like so many other platitudes associated with the' Great One' the Obama-Science meme is lacking in substance.

The crown jewel of American Scientific brilliance since the 1960s has been the Space Exploration Program. Indeed JFK centralized it as such with his rousing speeches on the issue, which although framed in cold war swagger undoubtebly galvanized an enthuzed two to three generations of American high school science students. From such endeavours came breakthroughs in biomedical research, telecommunications, engineering and architectural design and looking back at such ab era one can only glow at its achievement. Many spin off technologies that we enjoy today can trace part of their genesis to such an initiative. Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton and Bush II followed in suit with varying degrees of success but never veering from the primacy of the drive, Yes there were some awful moments (the explosions of the Challenger and Columbia) but all scientific advancements are not immune from setbacks. At the end of the day the successes far outweighed the failures (if indeed they are failures...another point to debate).

Yet it is under Barack Obama that historic role of NASA as an engine for American scientific passion has been all but neutered. No great missions appear on the horizon, a return to the moon is off the agenda (and with it a possible moon base), Mars exploration is dogged in bureaucracy, the space shuttle program has been left to rest while the US (the apparent winner of the Cold War) is forced to resort to Russian transportation to access the International Space Station. We are now further behind in our Global Space Initiatives. So why is it that Obama is still seen as the visionary Science President? For in this realm his record is one of abject disappointment.

British Lions Defeat Wallabies

It was wonderful cheering on the British Lions to their first tour series victory since 1997  The Lions, made up of a majority of Welsh internationals defeated the Aussies to record a 2-1 series truimph. Although the rubber game's final score, 41-16 in favour of the Lions,  appears to be one-sided the reality is that the Wallabies tested the full mettle of the Lions and only a late flurry at the end ensured the enormity of the outcome.

While victory is sweet, I am not convinced from what I saw that this Lions team would have defeated the All-Blacks (or the Springboks) in a similar series. Still its sweet revenge for the men in red who came out on the wrong side of the outcome against the Aussies twelve years ago. Well done.

On the Kabbalah

The Kabbalah has always attracted me - primarly as it offers a  model for understanding the interaction between the spiritual and physical (material) aspects of the universe. I really appreciate the logical structure of the ten Sefirot and believe that the Ein Sof conceptualization of G-d is brilliant in its description of this great intangibility. However the discipline is suffused with its fair share of nonsense mongers and charlatans who advocate a level of knowledge that exceeds their own grasp of the nuances. I am very much conscious of this pitfall. Therefore I approach Kabbalah study with a guarded caution - awareness of its dynamism coupled with a critical appraisal of its limitations and reach. Fortunately such a strategy is consistent with my overall life philosophy in the epistemological realm ie. moderate scepticism.