Friday Four

Friday, October 28, 2016

1. A McSweeney's post titled "10 Signs Your Partner Plans to Name Your Baby Something Horribly Unconventional" brings back memories of when Mrs. Van Horn and I were trying to come up with a name for Pumpkin -- but not because of anything like this:

There's a book by the toilet titled 18th Century Jobs with pages folded down at Besswarden, Cloistress, Delver, Hayward, and Yeoman.
Quite to the contrary, we were on the same page, with her "key chain rule" stipulating that a name should be common enough to find in a key chain display, and yet not so common as to be sold out. Regarding our daughter's name, someone approached me on a subway platform back in Boston to admire the baby. Upon my revealing the name, she smiled and said, "Wow! I can pronounce it and spell it!"

I am also reminded by contrast of a couple who came up with a very long and odd name for their child. A mutual acquaintance replied, "His name is my name, too," immediately upon hearing about it for the first time.

2. From the annals of World War II comes the story of how Alan Turing got out of military service:
It was true. On his application form Turing had encountered the question "Do you understand that by enrolling in the Home Guard you place yourself liable to military law?" He could see no advantage in answering yes, so he answered no, and the clerk had filed the form without looking at it.

"So all they could do was to declare that he was not a member of the Home Guard," remembered Peter Hilton. "Of course that suited him perfectly. It was quite characteristic of him. And it was not being clever. It was just taking this form, taking it at its face value and deciding what was the optimal strategy if you had to complete a form of this kind. So much like the man all the way through."
In a way, it makes sense that it was this easy for a computer scientist to outwit a robotic bureaucracy.

3. Modern video games are simulating the footwork (real and imagined) of world-class soccer players so well that some professionals are incorporating those moves into their style of play:
[Arsenal's Alex Iwobi] also had a soft spot for Aiden McGeady, an altogether less remarkable Irish winger. "He had one turn that I would go out into the garden and practice," Iwobi said.

It was the same with Ronaldinho. Iwobi would spend hours trying to bring to life the tricks his idol could do only in virtual reality. Mastering them helped him in the cage, and then in his career.
Only twenty, Iwobi has become a regular starter this season for my favorite team, and his smooth moves and creativity have been a joy to watch.

4. Via In the Pipeline comes a good story about a naturopath who, "once considered herself a doctor," but is now "an apostate":
[Britt] Hermes spent three years practicing naturopathy, a broad-reaching form of alternative medicine that focuses on "natural" care, including herbal remedies, acupuncture, and the discredited practice of homeopathy. But unease about a colleague's ethics led her to look more closely at her profession -- and what she found alarmed her.

So for the past two years, Hermes has been waging a scathing fight against naturopathy on social media, in science blogs, and on her own website, Naturopathic Diaries, which just won a "best blog of the year" award from a scientific skepticism magazine in the United Kingdom. She has not pulled punches. [format edits, links in article removed, link to blog added]
Although I oppose all licensing laws on principle, I support Hermes's efforts: So long as there are licensing laws, they should based as much as possible on sound science.

On a more positive note, it is encouraging to see someone make such a dramatic change from superstition to reason.

-- CAV

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