The Robot Rebellion of Richard Dawkins

British biologist Richard Dawkins’s latest book, Unweaving the Rainbow, is a set of chapters loosely connected around the theme of rebutting a poem by Keats, whose message was that “cold philosophy” spoils the charm of things like the rainbow by reducing them to physical causes. Dawkins responds, defensively but not unreasonably, that science has its own charms for those who Read More ›

Think tank: Innovate to fix 520

The state cannot keep the aging, overworked Evergreen Point bridge floating forever, and new options including tolls or tunnels across Lake Washington must be studied to preserve Highway 520. ...Speakers told of selling a highway in Canada to private interests and building a state-of-the-art tunnel at a bargain price in Scandinavia. "Let's start thinking differently about how we approach these things," said Jonathan Huggett, a Vancouver, B.C., expert on financing. Huggett said he's worked on jobs all over the world, often involving public agencies designing projects and then going to construction with the lowest bidder. "This is the most inefficient, worst way to deliver a project," he said. Instead, he suggested going to a design-build approach in which certain parameters are laid out, but then requests for proposals are put out to private developers, and it's left to them to decide how to fix a problem, at a set price. Read More ›

Think tank digs into debate over 520 tunnel

The two-day seminar, "State Route 520: A Corridor in Crisis," is being conducted at the Woodmark Hotel in Kirkland by the Discovery Institute, a public-policy group. The seminar continues today and is open to the public....Although the session was privately sponsored, including funding from the McCaw Foundation, it included public analysis that essentially agreed with the private views. "We haven't built roads, we haven't built transit, we haven't built arterials, and we're surprised when we have a congestion problem?" asked Rob Fellows of the state Department of Transportation, who oversaw the Trans-Lake study. Another aim of the sessions is to try to get the area high-tech industry involved, said Bruce Agnew, Discovery Institute director, partly explaining the McCaw Foundation funding. Traditionally, he said, people with property interests in the Highway 520 corridor have been involved in seeking solutions, but groups with economic interests have been absent, partly because the transportation situation is so confusing. Read More ›

Experts study 520 corridor gridlock

"The 520 corridor is the classic bottleneck in what we call the Cascadia region," Discovery Institute Director Bruce Chapman said at yesterday's kick-off session. "Figuring out what to do with it is crucial to long-term regional planning." The aging 520 pontoon bridge now accommodates about 120,000 vehicles on an average weekday, state transportation figures show, with peak-hour flows now about equal in both directions. But even with growth and increased traffic volumes, peak flow counts haven't changed much in recent years, Fellows said. What has: longer periods of heavy traffic along the state route, as a growing population adjusts work and commute schedules before and after rush-hours, he said. "What we're seeing now is volume growth filling in the off-peak periods, accounting for longer periods of congestion," Fellows said.....While today's forum will examine such long-term solutions as building alternate highways and boring a tunnel beneath the lake, strategies that can be implemented in the short term are just as important. Creating more transit and light rail services, examining passenger ferries runs and improving local "feeder" roads could all have immediate effects, said Preston Schiller, a Cascadia Project consultant. "The table is set for addressing the 520 corridor as part of a long-term plan," added Burce Agnew, Cascadia Project manager. "But the big question we're dealing with is, how do you pay for it and how to get public support." Read More ›

The Man Who Offered to Eat The Dark Tower Ms.

It seemed ironic enough that in 1990 Collins (publisher of most C. S. Lewis books) paid biographer A. N. Wilson a small fortune to trash Lewis, and in 1995 Oxford University Press (publisher of six Lewis books) brought out John Goldthwaite’s Natural History of Make-Believe, trashing Lewis. An odd way for even the most cynical publishers to treat one of Read More ›

C. S. Lewis and “The Seeing Eye” (1963)

“Looking for God — or Heaven — by exploring space is like reading or seeing all Shakespeare’s plays in the hope you will find Shakespeare as one of the characters or Stratford as one of the places. Shakespeare is in one sense present at every moment in every play. But he is never present in the same way as Falstaff Read More ›

Who Is the Real Author? A Computer Finds Out

In January 1996 Primary Colors, the anonymous novel by a political insider, was released by Random House. Thanks in part to curiosity about the author, it was on the New York Times best-seller list 20 weeks, nine weeks as number one. At mid-year 1.2 million hardbacks had sold, and it was being translated into foreign languages. Warner paid $1.5 million Read More ›

Is “Kipling’s World” a Key, a Mystery, or Both?

Readers have often wondered what Walter Hooper’s motivation is, and of course no one knows. But C. S. Lewis gave us a possible insight to that mystery in his little-known 1948 essay “Kipling’s World,” in Selected Literary Essays (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969). There Lewis analyzed his ambivalent response to Kipling: strong admiration and strong recoil. “To belong, to be Read More ›

Robertson Davies

According to Books & Culture, celebrated Canadian novelist Robertson Davies, who died at 82 on 2 December 1995, had many careers: “as the last of the Oxford aesthetes, as a stagemanager at London’s Old Vic theatre, as the newspaper columnist who created and popularized the curmudgeonly Canadian commentator ‘Samuel Marchbanks,’ as a hopeful young playwright, as a disappointed middle-aged playwright Read More ›

Analysing for Authorship with the Cusum Technique

Andrew Morton, widely regarded as the world authority on authorship attribution, developed the cusum (or QSUM) technique in 1988 after 40 years of research. His method identifies authorship irrespective of genre, over long periods of time, and from an early age. Since 1990 it has been accepted in law courts as a sound identifier of disputed utterance, and has been Read More ›