Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Religion and Science

One of the major points of interest of mine is the question of the relation between rationality and irrationality, knowlegde and superstition, science and religion. Mark that in this sequence knowledge is not set in opposition to believe. Any human endeavor - including science - is built on some form of believe. Still the commonly used definition of knowledge remains justified true believe. The opposition is based on the difference between justified true and hold to be true believes, between something that can be objectively shown to be true and what has been told to be true.

Most books on the subject were more or less commissioned by religious institutions, at least those I could - so far - lay my hands on. This is mostly due to two reasons. Either someone is an atheist and has little or nothing to say about something he doesn't believe in. Or he's bending over backwards to give religion some space, the way Stephen Jay Gould did with the non-overlapping magisteria in his eponymous 1997 essay in the National History magazine.

Other books, like Victor Stengers God: The Failed Hypothesis, already have concluded any business of discussion the relationship between science and religion. Or Richard Dawkins, who in The God Delusion discusses the way people feel the need to define either without really explaining his stance in details. (To give them credit, they describe the basic concept while hinting at earlier works, so they may have detailed their views on defining science and religions in some other book.)

So what is missing is a deeper discussion of what religion and science are, what their similarities are, where the differences lie.

So I decided to borrow a few books and the easiest-accessible library to me is the Theological Library of the Strasbourg University in France. Hence the choice of books, Religion and Science, The Cambridge Companion to Science and the SCM Studyguide to Science and Religion. Let's start with the latter one…

SCM Studyguide to Science and Religion

Written by Jean Dorricott and published by SCM Press in 2005, the book, subtitled Footsteps in Space, claims to examine the "scientific interpretation of our position in the universe as we understand it today" and set in relation to religion by "explor[ing] the historical relationship between religion and science/technology since the Stone Ages." As this book is intended as a studyguide, the texts are relatively easy to understand, and from my point of view, almost simplistic. It's underlying presupposition is a religious view of the world. The supernatural is a fact. But of course, this is never explicitely stated, but every bit of the book oozes the ectoplasma of God.

In the introduction Dorricott writes that Part 1 of the book explores the scientific interpretation of the world as it appears to us. Yet each of its four chapter has some major reference to religious entities, the last one ("The Fifth Footprint - I Heard the Voice of God") being unabashedly religious. Even more, for a book that has science as one of its two major subjects, there's nowhere a description of what science (or religion, for that matter) actually is. It sure is easy to read but hardly can be considered a guide to serious study.

Part 2 is meant to describe the relationship between religion and science throughout the ages. Unfortunately by beginning in the "Stone Ages" it makes clear that it is willing to include a lot of conjecture into a relationship that hardly existed at all at that time. Later chapters are more fact-based but succumb to tabloid style and logic.

Just to give you an idea, here's an example. It's part of sub-section Spiralling DNA, on pages 179 and 180. (Actually, the division of the text within a chapter makes use of the sections and sub-sections for easier navigation but not as an indicator of separate ideas.)

"Although scientific method has been so successful, questions began to be raised. Science now had its own philosophers, notably Karl Popper, who introduced the idea of falsification, and Thomas Kuhn, who added paradigm shifts. Postmodern philosophers criticized scientific objectivity on the grounds that discoveries are not value-free. There is no true knowledge, only different ways of seeing the world (Paul Feyerabend). But scientists in general assume they are working with reality, as their findings do not vary with culture, place or time, and that relativity as a philosophy does not apply.

Our ability to fix things had never seemed more secure - but was? Increasing doubts about the efficacy of new technologies are causing great concern among scientists and non-scientists alike as Chapter 8 explains."

Did I say this book treats its subjects in a simplistic way? Oversimplifying seems to be the better word. Quite a major disappointment…


Buy at
Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.fr | Amazon.de

Monday, 15 October 2012

Archives // Deto & Gleam

Progressive Minimal Techno

That's what you could call the music of Hungarian duo Deto & Gleam (aka Peter Takács and Mark Bókay) on their first full album Archives - released early December 2010 by German label Digital Diamonds.

 It was released in three formats via Ektoplazm.

MP3 Download
FLAC Download
WAV Download

01 Chrono
02 511 keV (Album Load)
03 Chrono (Wasted Time Mix)
04 T-Echoes
05 Surgery
06 Tangenter
07 Tears Deconstructed
08 Observation Center


Digital Diamonds
Creative Commons

Wednesday, 10 October 2012



for quite some time I have been silent about computing affairs but now that I'm trying to prepare my switch to any Linux distribution there will be a few articles coming up…

But right now a simple tool you might need and for now only for Windows.

If you download open source packages — whether it's the code or some binaries — a good idea is to check the checksum hash.

Most websites use either the MD5 or SHA-1 algorithms, or both.

A fast way to hash your download and check it against the provided checksum without the full installation process is to use some protable checksum hash application.

I found DP Hash to be perfectly sufficient. It's freeware by Dirk Pähl. Nothing fancy, just some simple interface. It allows hashing of only one file at the time and can not export its results except copying the hash to the clipboard.

To check a download it's largely enough…


Saturday, 29 September 2012

Inside the Medieval Mind

Robert John Bartlett is a medievalist currently holding the position of Wardlaw Professor of Mediaeval History at the University of St Andrews' School of History.

Born on November 27 in 1950, he is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, Fellow of the British Academy, Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, specializing in medieval colonialism, the cult of saints, and England between the 11th century and the 14th century.

In 2008 he wrote and hosted a four-part television mini-series for The Open University broadcast by the BBC Four between April 17 and May 8.


In the first part Robert Bartlett investigates the world view as seen by the educated people of the Middle Ages between the 9th and 16th century, and the challenges brought upon them by the discovery of the world.


In the second part Robert gives us insights into how people of its time viewed love and marriage and experienced sexuality.


The Middle Ages (in Europe) are always depicted as dominated by the Christian religion. But what were the actual believes of the people?


One of the major characteristics of this period was the strict social order set up by what is often called the feudal society. Robert Bartlett shows us his insights into the way the political and other order was maintained throughout the centuries and how it was transformed at the end of the Middle Ages.


Inside the Medieval Mind is one of the best introductions into the world of thought of an often misunderstood period - mistunderstood because it is so foreign to our own way of thinking at the beginning of the 21st century, more than half a millennium after the Middles Ages gave way to the Modern era.

Using real-life examples from ancient accounts, Robert Bartlett illustrates the medieval everyday world and contrasts it with the development of the best of the brightest at its time.

The best minds in theology and philosophy speak out, as do historians and commoners.

In almost four hours Bartlett displays the ways the average person feels about things and the best minds of its time reasoned about ideas. He never judges but tries to help us understand the basic frame of mind.


BBC Four - Inside the Medieval Mind
OU on the BBC: Inside The Medieval Mind - OpenLearn - Open University
Inside the Medieval Mind (2008) - IMDb
Inside the Medieval Mind - DocuWiki

Professor Robert Bartlett, University of St Andrews - School of History Staff Profile
Robert Bartlett - Wikipedia


Gerald of Wales

Published on June 10 in 1982
Amazon UK | Amazon France | Amazon Deutschland

Trial by Fire and Water
Mediaeval Judicial Ordeal

Published on October 16 in 1986
Amazon UK | Amazon France | Amazon Deutschland

The Making of Europe
Conquest, Colonization and Cultural Change
950 - 1350

Published April 1993
Amazon UK | Amazon France | Amazon Deutschland

England under the Norman and Angevin Kings

Published January 27 in 2000
Amazon UK | Amazon France | Amazon Deutschland

The Hanged Man
A Story of Miracle, Memory and Colonialism in the Middle Ages

Published February 2 in 2004
Amazon UK | Amazon France | Amazon Deutschland

The Natural and the Supernatural in the Middle Ages

Published March 17 in 2008
Amazon UK | Amazon France | Amazon Deutschland

Revised Editions

Gerald of Wales
A Voice of the Middle Ages

Published October 15 in 2006
Amazon UK | Amazon France | Amazon Deutschland

Search for Robert Bartlett on Amazon UK, Amazon France or Amazon Deutschland.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

The Rise and Fall of Cosmic Empires // Professor Blood

Professor Blood

Andrea Gherardi is an Italian music producer from Bruxelles. That's at least what he writes on his Facebook page. Or from Piacenza.

The Rise and Fall of Cosmic Empires

He released his first EP on May 22, 2012 via Jamendo. It's a science-fiction themed concept album (if you will) on the First Solar Wars - whatever they might be.

Above all these five tracks a pretty straight forward electronic dance tracks, the last one - Removal From Office - being a bonus track without any connection to the First Solar Wars. Beat-driven techno with the occasional and very light dubstep influence. Very nice, very listenable, almost very good.

I look forward to his next release…

The Rise and Fall of Cosmic Empires on Jamendo

Professor Blood on…

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Doctor Who: Blink

Doctor Who

The Doctor is a time-travelling Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey and Doctor Who (you know, as in "Doctor... who?") is one of the longest-running television franchises in science fiction.

As a huge sci-fi fan I have, of course, heard about it but never seen an episode until maybe 2010 when I have seen a few episodes late night on France 4. The first impression was rather of some silliness but after a few episodes I got into the spirit and found an universe of intriguing ideas and gripping drama with some silly goofiness thrown in. Not every idea is great but what series can not be accused of that crime.

The first episodes I've seen (in French) must have been starring David Tennant but when I started watching in earnest I naturally began with the Ninth Doctor. But you'll always remember your first Doctor and my Doctor is and probably always will be the Tenth Doctor.


When Doctor Who was created in 1963, the character was meant to be an older man travelling with his grand-daughter both being humanoid aliens capable of time travel. By 1966 the need of re-casting the Doctor became apparent and in any normal show that meant either one of two possibilities. One could simply take a new actor and pretend nothing ever happened. Or one could basically do what is today called a reboot - recreate everything and pretend the previous series don't exist. In a rare case you could integrate the fact that the actor has changed by saying the character has undergone plastic surgery but this seems rare indeed.

Being an alien it was suggested that the Doctor could regenerate allowing for a new actor to take on the role with different looks and attitudes while keeping the continuity intact. This way over the years the Doctor has been played by eleven differnt actors (in the official canon) with Matt Smith playing the latest incarnation since January the First, 2010.


As I have said I'm still loyal to the Tenth Doctor who appeared in three series. While I generally prefer the first and the last of these three years the Third Series still features one of the best Doctor Who episodes, ever: Blink.

A young woman gets messages from the past and needs to sort it out in order to survive the deadliest (and probably most humane) assassins of the universe and help the Doctor.

Two things stand out in this episode. First, there are these monsters whose peculiar nature makes them more frightening than your usual I-rip-your-head-off-and-feed-on-your-blood monster of the week. Second, the Doctor is hardly seen and yet you feel his presence.

I have found a video clip on YouTube but please be aware that watching it before you've seen the episode might spoil it for you!

You can buy it on Amazon…

Monday, 6 August 2012

Steampunk Literature, Part Two

Some More Fiction

Though I'm still reading another book entirely (Vanquished Gods: Science, Religion and the Nature of Belief) and will read some other book (The Long Earth) before I get into Steampunk I still have found some more to read…

Let's begin with James Blaylock's The Digging Leviathan which is the first novel in his Narbondo series, followed by Homunculus and Lord Kelvin's Machine. Blaylock was mentored - alongside Tim Powers and the aforementioned K. W. Jeter - by Philip K. Dick.

Another novel is Infernal Devices. A Mad Victorian Fantasy by none other than Jeter himself who probably coined the word steampunk in 1987.

Not Strictly Steampunk But Close Enough

Stephen Michael Stirling's The Peshawar Lancers is not entirely what I would call steampunk but close in feeling to be interesting.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Steampunk Literature

Lately I wondered about interesting Steampunk literature.


Steampunk is a term that - paralleling the word Cyberpunk invented by Bruce Bethke - denotes work featuring a certain punk attitude in combination with a core technology. While in the case of cyberpunk it is the nowadays prevalent electronic technology, steampunk takes a bit more revisionist and romantic approach by making the steam engine the primary driving force behind most technical development.

This makes for visually striking imagery but appears to us today less plausible. This (and the appealing idea that common people can with some training repair everything) helps in popularizing the basic ideas of the steampunk concept. But it also seems to be a reason that steampunk has until late largely refined to visual art forms like movies (my favorite one featuring steampunk concepts so far as I have seen remains La Cité des enfants perdus), animes and comics.

So what about written fiction?

I have decided to create a small list of Steampunk literature that I will try to get and read it and I will eventually post reviews on each book thus processed on this blog.

One book that I actually do own myself is The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. One early example of steampunk writing is Michael Moorcock's A Nomad of the Time Streams trilogy published between 1971 and 1981.

More recent additions to the genre is the work of Stephen Hunt's Jackelian fantasy series. Another novel that was placed in the steampunk tradition by none other than Moorcock himself is The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry.

The difficulty seems also to be that due to its nature (and close relation to the Victorian era) steampunk is frequently mixed with gothic horror, supernatural romance and/or written as young adults literature neither of which is necessarily bad but also dilutes the idea of steampunk (that I like).

The Difference Engine
The Warlord of the Air
The Land Leviathan
A Nomad Of Time Streams
The Court of the Air
The Manual of Detection
Writing Steampunk

Amazon.co.uk Widgets

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

The Sagan Series, Part 1: The Frontier Is Everywhere

Today I found The Sagan Series and as a fan both of Carl Sagan and space I will share with you exactly that: Space through the eyes of The Sagan Series. Official Website

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Sunset in the Netherlands

Last weekend was my first time in the Netherlands and while I didn't see any touristy kinda things I found something far more valuable: Dutch hospitality, and a beautiful landscape…

On Saturday while taking a little timeout (after a lengthy nap in the sun) I took this picture of the sky and decided to share it with tampering with contrast or anything.

Just a simple photograph…

Tierischer Zungenkuss

Last weekend we spend a wonderful time in the Netherlands as guests with some new found friends.

While my fiancée spent her time looking at and for rabbits I made a few picture and this 3D video of our hosts' young calves.

Many thanks to Janneke !


Angora konijnen van Janneke
Une Cerise au potager

Monday, 4 June 2012

Clive Barker's Imajica

Clive Barker is one the better known writers of fantasy, specifically of a subgenre that I would like to call body fantasy as it shares with body horror its preoccupation with the human body, not necessarily in a destructive or degenerative way though that is one part of it. Hence some of his work is commonly classified under horror.


It's been a while now that I wanted to read some of his works so a couple of years ago I bought several of his novels, Galilee, Sacrament, and Imajica. As the story of Imajica seemed to be the most-accessible to me out of the three books I started reading it. But somehow I didn't get past page 30, maybe…

But about a month I have been in search for some book that would allow me to completely leave behind the reality the way Neil Gaiman's American Gods or The Tales of Mithgar have done lately. And my eyes fell on the 1991 novel by Clive Barker. So I picked it up again and started… again.

While it has little consequence in the book itself, its title - Imajica - is quite appropriate as the novel is a very imaginative tale of a man on the quest to find himself. To achieve this goal he goes to hardly imaginable lengths including leaving our world literally behind himself.

Trying to give an indication of what can be found in this book would inevitably spoil the pleasure in reading the novel as discovering the man and the places he travels with him made up a lot of the pleasure. Suffice to say that Barker gives an interesting interpretation of magicians of the Faustian kind. While some critics have called this novel an erotic one I rather feel that they mix up two very distinct ideas. Imajica is deeply rooted in what I have previously called body fantasy and as such features many graphic description of physical destruction, very strange body structures, and very human bodily actions and reactions. At the same time it is about love in all its forms. Most people are driven by different forms of love or, at least, desire. In this aspect the novel becomes a very romantic one.

As before it took a few dozen pages before I got hooked on the story but once hooked I found it difficult stopping to read. The last fifty pages I tried to read as fast as I could to get to the end of it, to understand, but in my haste I guess I missed something because I am left with many open questions, on why some things turned out the way they did, on why some people did the things they did, to what end. So I guess I'll have no choice to re-read at least the final hundred (out of about 840) pages, this time taking the time to let the words sink in properly. After all, the book felt like it provided the answers but that you need to read it carefully to grasp the meaning of it…

To summarize the reading experience, it's very worthwhile but will take some time to finish and understand it. Which makes it a very good book, I guess.

You can buy it at Amazon…

Jaime Heras' The Very Best 1990-2010

Jaime Heras

Jaime Heras is a self-taught musician from Murcia in Spain. He's making music for quite some time now so it was time for compilation collecting works from twenty years.

The Very Best 1990-2010

The Very Best features twenty tracks, more than the half of which were edited or remade. The music range extends between new age, modern classical and electronic ambient. Jaime Heras is the sole composer and performer of all music, safe for a handful of tracks on which PeerGynt LoboGris plays the guitar as a guest musician.

I must admit that I prefer his electronic ambient tracks much more than his (apparently) older new age songs.

Depending on your musical preferences you may share my point of view that this album is great as an introduction but likely to be replaced by the actual album releases (some of which I will present you in the future).

The music has been released by Free Ear Music under a Creative Commons license.

Download at the Internet Archive

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Hackers and Alternatives

Today I want to share two links that in my mind have a lot in common.

Richard Stallman may have had a few lowbrow ideas - like the Free Software Song - but generally he's on the right track, I think...

In part thanks to him there's a strong connection between the ideas of open source and hacking which still leads a lot of people to think that open source applications are a security risk (and not fit for use in corporate business but that's another story).

Here's what Richard has to say about it:

(Source: On Hacking - Richard Stallman)

The basic idea of hacking is thus to provide an alternative - whether useful or not is a secondary question. Secondary because you never know when someone else will take up your hack and make something useful out of it.

You can always try to find alternatives to some software yourself, by roaming sites like SourceForge, Google Code, CodePlex or many other open source software hosting facilities - or you let someone else do it for you.

Recently - as in today - I stumbled upon alternativeTo to give me alternatives. Maybe you'll try it too and get back to me with your opinion.

Monday, 9 April 2012


I wish this Italian artist would create more music as he had done on Jupiter back in 2009.

Simple yet no too much, instrumental but I don't miss the vocals anyways, pretty much old school in his approach to electronic body music.

Just have a listen and download it - it's free.