### When should we stop listening to oppressed people?

On the Astronomers Facebook page, Dr. David Spiegel asks a very straightforward yet, to date, unanswered question regarding the TMT debate:
On the one hand, there are some people (whether a fractionally small minority or not), whose land was colonized and whose culture is disappearing, who think of Mauna Kea as a sacred location that should not have more ground broken on it for giant new telescopes.
Then, there are some astronomers who say, essentially, "We really ought to listen more to these marginalized people who are objecting to the plans to build a giant new telescope."
And finally, there are some astronomers who say, essentially, "Nope. We had a very listeny process already. The time for listening is over; the time for pouring concrete has arrived." And some high-profile astronomers who take this position have used some offensive, insensitive, and, yes, racist language in making this argument to several hundred of their closest friends.
Am I right that the dispute among astronomers is basically between those who argue, "Let's listen more to the colonized people who are objecting to our plans to build the world's largest optical telescope on their sacred mountain, find out whether compromise solutions are available, and, if not, take a whole lot more time to figure out whether ignoring the complaints of victims of colonialism in order to build a big telescope is the right course of action," and those who are arguing, "Let's go ahead and build right now because our process already involved 7 years of listening and we'd rather build the telescope than listen more."?
If I'm wrong in this understanding, which part of it is wrong?
If I'm right in this understanding, can people help me understand how the latter argument makes moral and logical sense? In other words, what are the steps of moral logic that go from (A) "We've already listened a whole lot." to (B) "We should go ahead and build the telescope despite the complaints of some victims of colonialism who think that we'll be desecrating their sacred mountain by building it."?

Steve Bryson said…
My first reaction to hearing "Nope. We had a very listeny process already. The time for listening is over; the time for pouring concrete has arrived." is that this sounds like someone who listens to opinions but has no willingness to their course of action. Does my reaction indicate a straw man? Did the process of spending years listening to indigenous opinions ever really include possibly not siting TMT on Mauna Kea?

### On the Height of J.J. Barea

Dallas Mavericks point guard J.J. Barea standing between two very tall people (from: Picassa user photoasisphoto).

Congrats to the Dallas Mavericks, who beat the Miami Heat tonight in game six to win the NBA championship.

Okay, with that out of the way, just how tall is the busy-footed Maverick point guard J.J. Barea? He's listed as 6-foot on NBA.com, but no one, not even the sports casters, believes that he can possibly be that tall. He looks like a super-fast Hobbit out there. But could that just be relative scaling, with him standing next to a bunch of extremely tall people? People on Yahoo! Answers think so---I know because I've been Google searching "J.J. Barea Height" for the past 15 minutes.

So I decided to find a photo and settle the issue once and for all.

I then used the basketball as my metric. Wikipedia states that an NBA basketball is 29.5 inches in circumfe…

### Finding Blissful Clarity by Tuning Out

It's been a minute since I've posted here. My last post was back in April, so it has actually been something like 193,000 minutes, but I like how the kids say "it's been a minute," so I'll stick with that.
As I've said before, I use this space to work out the truths in my life. Writing is a valuable way of taking the non-linear jumble of thoughts in my head and linearizing them by putting them down on the page. In short, writing helps me figure things out. However, logical thinking is not the only way of knowing the world. Another way is to recognize, listen to, and trust one's emotions. Yes, emotions are important for figuring things out.
Back in April, when I last posted here, my emotions were largely characterized by fear, sadness, anger, frustration, confusion and despair. I say largely, because this is what I was feeling on large scales; the world outside of my immediate influence. On smaller scales, where my wife, children and friends reside, I…

### The Force is strong with this one...

Last night we were reviewing multiplication tables with Owen. The family fired off doublets of numbers and Owen confidently multiplied away. In the middle of the review Owen stopped and said, "I noticed something. 2 times 2 is 4. If you subtract 1 it's 3. That's equal to taking 2 and adding 1, and then taking 2 and subtracting 1, and multiplying. So 1 times 3 is 2 times 2 minus 1."

I have to admit, that I didn't quite get it at first. I asked him to repeat with another number and he did with six: "6 times 6 is 36. 36 minus 1 is 35. That's the same as 6-1 times 6+1, which is 35."

Ummmmm....wait. Huh? Lemme see...oh. OH! WOW! Owen figured out

x^2 - 1 = (x - 1) (x +1)

So $6 \times 8 = 7 \times 7 - 1 = (7-1) (7+1) = 48$. That's actually pretty handy!

You can see it in the image above. Look at the elements perpendicular to the diagonal. There's 48 bracketing 49, 35 bracketing 36, etc... After a bit more thought we…