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Woman believes in 'secular heaven'

A non-operational, empty escalator at King's Cross underground railway station on the northern edge of London at the junction of Euston Road and York Way, in the London Borough of Camden on the boundary with the London Borough of Islington (Credit: Chris Jones via Flickr) I read yesterday a terrific essay titled, "No One Ever Loses to Cancer."  The author tells of a man she loves who is fighting terminal malignancy.  When she heard someone say that a person had "lost the battle" against cancer," she realized:

"Our vernacular is all wrong.  I resent how cancer is represented.  Just because something kills you cannot possibly mean it defeats you.  If that were true, we would all—masters and poets and liars and sinners and dancers and writers and heroes—be destined in the end to be losers."

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'Happy' songwriter says 'God and universe are synonymous'

Singer Pharrell Williams gestures as he attends the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)'s 35th Anniversary Gala presented by Louis Vuitton at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in Los Angeles, California, on March 29, 2014 (Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Alcorn)Have you heard the song "Happy" by Pharrell Williams?  It originally appeared in the animated movie Despicable Me 2 and it has been on the radio for over a year.  One critic called it "unbelievably catchy" and "the kind of song that makes you want to dance and sing along."  I am a sucker for a fun song; I use it as the ringtone on my phone.

The "Happy" writer said on Good Morning America that the song came from a moment of writer's block and that "the master, God, the universe" spoke to him.  In a recent interview, Williams described those celebrities that would claim there is no God to be "incredibly arrogant and pompous," and he exclaimed "It's amazing that there are people who really believe that. It's unbelievable."

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The metric system and the future of America

A closeup of a wooden ruler showing both imperial (inches) and metric (centimeters) forms of measurement(Credit: Biking Nikon SFO via Flickr) I think the metric system is a metaphor for the future of America.  Here's why.

My thinking begins with Seth Stevenson, who writes fascinating articles for Slate.  His most recent column responds to Whatever Happened to the Metric System? by John Bemelmans Marciano.  According to Stevenson, a meter was originally one ten-millionth of the length of a longitudinal meridian between the equator and the North Pole.  Got that?  The meter changed in 1960 when it took its basis from the wavelength of krypton-86 radiation.  It changed again in 1983, and now is the length of the path traveled by light in a vacuum during 1/299,792,458 of a second.

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