A couple of miscellaneous items. A scientist goes off-topic to talk about women composers, thus revealing (and not for the first time) that scientists tend to know more about the arts than artists and humanist scholars know about science.

And then there’s a very interesting long post by John Holbo on Bad Writing. He’s just read Just Being Difficult?, the new book that re-ignited the subject of bad writing, and he has some excellent acerbic comments on it. There’s also a discussion of Holbo’s discussion at Crooked Timber. One reader there makes this classic comment:

I’ve always wanted to ask Steven Weinberg why he became a scientist. The answer would be most likely because of a certain kind of desire for a certain kind of truth. But truth is a metaphysical construct with a whole lot of poetical baggage. In court they don’t talk about ‘truth’ but about ‘facts’ which are much more mundane. No one spouts of about The Eternal Search for FACTS! do they?

Ah. Truth is a metaphysical construct with a whole lot of poetical baggage, is it. And is that all it is? Does that exhaust the subject? Does no one ever use the word ‘truth’ without attaching words like ‘eternal’ or rather ‘Eternal’ to it? Whose poetical baggage and metaphysical construction is whose, here? Interesting.

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