Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dr Titania and sizism

The news-day started badly, all doom and gloom, with that previous post. Can the American judicial Right be that stupid? Have these great jurists (as designated by Republican Presidents and their Congress) never heard of Frédéric Bastiat, whose maxim was that the law was not there to ordain justice, but to prevent injustice? --
Can the law -- which necessarily requires the use of force -- rationally be used for anything except protecting the rights of everyone?
Yet, in the legal murder machine of the Great State of Texas, the law goes home for R&R at 4.45 each night. Two years on, the [London] Times catches up with it.

To more cheering matters

Home again, after a day travelling out to one of the nicest country pubs he's seen in a while (of which more anon, perhaps on the other channel), and back to the New York Times for something different and uplifting. How can anyone with a soul not be grabbed by this as an opener? -- :

During my recent trip to the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, I stopped for a while in front of a glass case of small mammals. I felt a pang as I looked at the “edible dormouse” — it’s got to be bad news to have “edible” as part of your name.

But the animal that really captivated me was the pygmy shrew. It was tiny! Smaller than my little finger. It weighs only a few grams (less than a quarter of an ounce), and is smaller than some insects.
Olivia Judson then proceeds to note that the tiny pygmy shrew and the blue whale (over 30m in length and well into three figures of tonnage) are both mammals. She then wonders:
While we know quite a bit about the forces that cause animals to change size, we know rather little about how an animal’s body “knows” what size it is supposed to be.
It is a nicely-written, intelligent piece. Even the subsequent 70-odd (and growing) list of comments are, on the whole, thoughtful and provocative. Sphere: Related Content

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