March 29, 2011
The Dartmouth Rugby Football Club opened its Spring season this past weekend with a 15-5 victory over an agile, strong University of Delaware side in Newark, Del., on that school’s Frazier Field.
The match was also the DRFC’s first as part of the newly-formed College Premier Division, a goup of rugby-playing colleges and universities to which Dartmouth was recently added. The Division is comprised of the 31 best collegiate rugby teams in the country, which are sub-divided by regional conference. The formation is new to American collegiate athletics, which had not previously recognized top-flight programs with their own division.
The DRFC next plays the Pennsylvania State University, and then travels to Barbados for its annual Spring Tour.
March 23, 2011
The popular view of Earth and our existence thereon is remarkably egocentric: most people ask, what are the odds of a planet existing that would support life like ours?
That construction puts the horse before the cart, and us before the cosmos. Humanity didn’t exist and float around until miraculously finding a planet to settle on. The planet came first, then a whole lot of other things, and then – finally – came us. And given the predominant thinking among physicists – that the universe is infinite and constantly expanding – the odds are high that a planet with Earth’s qualities, capable of supporting human-ish life, would exist. An infinite universe means infinite numbers of stars and planets, the combination of which make solar systems, and – given that infinity is really a terribly big number – a strong likelihood that planets like ours re-occur. Scrubbed down: it’s almost statistically certain that other earthlike planets exist, and equally certain there is life on them.
To illustrate: given the number of people on Earth, it would be hard to find a Korean Muslim named Steve who stands seven feet tall and is left-handed. Steve might be out there, but he’s rare. Now, assume instead that there is an infinite number of people. The odds are that Steve is out there, somewhere. In fact, the odds are several Steves are out there, though they may be few and far between. Even so, an infinity of Steves can exist. You can find anything in a large enough sample pool. And if your pool is infinite, like the universe, you can find anything an infinite number of times over.
Thus with planets and people. The universe is the largest sample pool there is, and it gets bigger every nanosecond. In all that space, it’s certain there are planets like ours, and certain there is life on them.
Which is a good enough excuse to arm ourselves to the teeth.
March 15, 2011
America has stayed uncharacteristically uninvolved in Libya’s late travails; uncharacteristically, given our history of interventionism in the Arab world. We’re involved in Iraq and Afghanistan in vague capacities, for vague reasons. Yet we’re reticent to involve ourselves in Libya.
Of all the places we are and shouldn’t be, Libya is one place we’re not and should be. The no-fly zone recently proposed by Sen. John McCain would cost very little in terms of men or money (especially compared to current Arab imbroglios elsewhere) and would be very effective (especially against a sixth-rate military like Libya’s). Economists would call it a cost-return analysis skewed highly in our favor.
Yet leaders debate: Are American interests at stake there? Why should we intervene?
The answer to the first is, yes. Libya sits atop one of the largest natural gas reserves in the world. Ensconcing an agreeable democracy there is worthwhile. To the second: innocent people need our help and we have the power to help them. Surely, that’s reason enough.
President Ronald Reagan ordered Libya bombed on April 15, 1986. The aim was to kill Libyan despot Colonel Moammar al-Gaddhafi, who narrowly escaped. Gaddhafi went on to strangle his country for tens of billions of dollars in personal gain and assemble one of the most flamboyant wardrobes of any world leader since Cleopatra.
2011 seems as good a year as any to finish the job President Reagan started.