Also, this is post 444.
- Actually, of course, the Mabinogion probably dates to the mid-11th century, and whatever source it and the Matter of Britain probably have in common is even older. 'Course, Excalibur's originaly "Caledfwlch", pronounced "Kaledvulkh" (sure is weird how you completely change the feel of a word by changing its spelling).
Incidentally, if you're looking for heaven, I should not advise California.
- I found out, the reason Latin Americans get so butt-hurt when we call ourselves Americans? Yeah, turns out, the way it's taught in the Hispanosphere, Greece, and much of Eastern Europe, North and South America are one continent (geologically they're three, Central America isn't part of either plate), just called "America". And yet they also think Europe exists (it doesn't—Eurasia is one continent, though Arabia and India are each their own plates).
We're sorry we can't tailor our endonym to your bad education system, gentlemen. A citizen of the United States actually said that to you, with cause. You should be embarrassed.
- If you read a lot of things translated from languages that use different writing, you will sooner or later come across people who essentially insist "don't Romanize, ever; only hangeul (or kana or whatever—some will even brazen it out about hanzi!) can adequately convey this language's sacred phonemes, and they must be preserved unsullied by your profane Roman script".
Only, codswallop. Newsflash, no two languages using this alphabet use it the same way; the only language it's actually phonemic for (nearly as phonemic as hangeul, by the bye) is Classical Latin. Did you think Spanish or French pronounced P, T, or R the way English does? That's cute. The fact of the matter is, if Indic languages can only be written in Indic scripts, you better tell the Irish, whose language has most of the same sounds as Hindi. Ditto Japanese and Korean...most of whose sounds are found in Polish.
Now, admittedly, some alphabets are more ideally suited to some uses than others; Irish is spelled diabolically in Roman, much as Sanskrit has to be, although part of the issue in Irish has to do with representing the unmodified form of the words (Hamish, the Highland Scots version of "James", is just the vocative of Gaelic "Seamus"—in some cases S becomes H, so the H sound is written Sh; Séamus becomes Shéamuis to show what it is in unmodified form). Those sounds Polish represents with biliterals and Czech, Slovak, and Croatian with diacritics, Cyrillic adequately renders with single letters (except Polish's nasals, though Cyrillic used to have those, too).
- While I actually think the case for reclassifying Pluto has been made, I also think a lot of the IAU voted for the change because Pluto was discovered by Americans (in my hometown, actually), and the IAU is dominated by Europeans.
Basically, people from a dwarf continent that isn't a real continent were lashing out. Oh, except Pluto isn't just one end of a real planet, and it's managed to hold onto its satellites.
- In the field of Mesoamerican anthropology, you perpetually get horse-hockey about how "teótl" doesn't mean "god", in Nahuatl. People try to insist it means "lord". Only, "pilli" and "tecuhtli" both mean "lord" in the social sense, while the "-tzin" honorific means it in the etiquette sense. Teótl means "supernatural being, with command over the forces of nature and human destiny, to whom sacrifices are given". I'm sorry, what exactly did you think the word "god" meant?
More generally in anthropology, writers on various cultures presume mightily on their knowledge of Western thought, when they try to contrast—like how the guy who wrote "Holy Wind in Navajo Philosophy" said Father Berard Haile (who did most of the early 20th-century Navajo ethnography) brought a "dualistic" bias, because he was a Catholic priest. Now, while the major modern proponent of dualism happened to be Catholic (his name was René Descartes), dualism is actually a minority position in orthodox Catholic philosophy; mitigated realism is the dominant school.
Probably the kicker was someone describing the Yoruba concept of ori, which is basically one's true nature and proper destiny, sometimes conceived as an external divine being, and fully realized by self-knowledge and proper conduct, as being "extremely foreign to Western philosophy". Aside from the Roman concept of genius being almost identical, did that writer ever stop to consider a certain oracle, famously associated with the founder of Western philosophy? One of its two mottoes is "gnothi seauton"—know thyself.
- Ever see people, criticizing the Big Bang, who basically make the ad hominem argument that LeMaître, being Catholic, had a bias in favor of a Creation? Has anyone ever pointed out that—given its similarities to Spinoza's view of time—Relativity is similarly invalidated, by its originator's religious beliefs? Einstein was a Spinozan pantheist, AKA a static monist. And LeMaître never arbitrarily included a constant in an equation to pre-bias conditions in favor of a (Spinozan) static universe; Einstein did, supposedly in his old age he considered it his greatest mistake (it later turned out there should be a constant there, but it doesn't restore stasis).
Incidentally, the view of time involved in some of the things Relativity says is inaccurate. Merely because an observer sees an event as occurring before its cause (as with a traversable wormhole) doesn't mean the event actually occurred that way; modern physics' decision to define time solely in terms of observations is what analytic philosophy calls a "map/territory error". Your observations of causality are not causality; don't make me get out the Magritte paintings.
- Speaking of strange ideas in the philosophy of science, what's with the people who denigrate the necessity of string theory (or the other theories for reconciling quantum mechanics and relativity)? I'm sorry, you don't think it's a problem, that doing anything in one half of physics means you have to pretend the other half doesn't exist? If only one of your eyes worked at a time, you wouldn't visit a neurologist?
Every single achievement in science has come about because someone said, "Huh. These two things I know contradict each other. I, uh, probably better try to figure out why that is, or else just accept that 1=0 and Bertrand Russel is the Pope." Coming up with theoretical explanations is pretty much what science, as we mean the thing, is—Chalcolithic Sumerians who thought each star was a god could do mere observation well enough to invent our system for polar geometry.
- In the comments on one of those articles about how our economies remove pretty much all the benefit of having children (because "you need a workforce to pay for your Medicare" doesn't ring the right Pavlovian bells), someone said that hunter-gatherers used infanticide as a major form of population control. Only, how many does he know? I went to high school with people who were hunter-gatherers until they stole enough livestock from the Spanish to become herdsmen, buddy, they don't even have the concept of "population control". People who live on a subsistence basis don't need to take any steps to make sure the population gets reduced in bad times, that's kinda what "subsistence" means.
Meanwhile, the "hunter-gatherers" who built the Parthenon and the Coliseum exposed their children that had birth defects (which in their view included "being female"). Indeed, the only great civilizations that have not practiced infanticide under one circumstance or another are Christianity and Islam, both of them because it's forbidden in a culture they both inherit from.
- There's a book, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fate of Human Societies, in which it is alleged that natural resources determine history. Only, what? Then why was nobody in the New World using metal for anything but ornaments? The New World has crazy resources, much better than the Old World (though that's less a factor in why America ran the world in the 20th century than the fact the World Wars didn't happen here).
Actually, if anything, lack of resources creates civilization. The Olmecs and Egyptians might've had it cushy, but Mesopotamia is a mudhole without even lumber, and the Anasazi homeland is a desert—that's why they invented bricks and irrigation. The Iron Age only started because tin is so scarce in the Old World, otherwise nobody would bother to use a metal as hard to work as iron is. The Neolithic Revolution, which started this thing called "civilization", is theorized to have been necessitated by the recent Ice Age having killed off lots of species and rendering hunter-gathering unsupportable.