Feb. 5th, 2017

hudebnik: (teacher-mode)
"clinamen", in this Politico piece.

Apparently it means an event that "just happens" for no particular reason. The term was originally used in connection with the classical Greek "atomic theory", which (in a curious prefiguring of Brownian motion) postulated that the atoms from which everything is made are constantly swirling unpredictably. So, for example, if by chance most of the atoms in a container are momentarily on the left side, thus exerting measurable pressure in that direction, the resulting pressure is a clinamen.

The author uses the term to suggest that in a complex system such as a U.S. Presidential campaign, actions have such unpredictable consequences that hidden conspiracies are unlikely to have much net effect distinguishable from background noise.
hudebnik: (Default)
Somehow I got onto whitehouse.gov's e-mail list, and my first e-mail from the Trump administration asks me to sign a petition supporting Justice Gorsuch's nomination to the Supreme Court.

The e-mail includes this bit: "Judge Neil Gorsuch follows the same principled approach espoused by Justice Scalia. He carefully applies the statuary text and he follows the Constitution’s original meaning."

Seriously -- "statuary text"? I've heard of people viewing the law as an edifice, or as graven in stone, or as fixed and unmoving, but not literally as a statue.

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