Catching up on the news from the past couple of weeks:
Ex-Conrad: The Canadian media has been in a tizzy all week over the news that the former Canadian media mogul, Conrad Black, has been released from prison after his fraud convictions were overturned by the US Supreme Court. I gather he still faces some residual charges, but he is out on bail. Does anybody outside Canada know or care about this story? Does anybody inside Canada? It strikes me as one of those teapot-tempest stories in which newsrooms talk to themselves.
Planck map: The Planck spacecraft released its first whole-sky map a few weeks ago. Planck is measuring the fine temperature variations in the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation, and its data is expected to give cosmologists amazingly detailed information about the universe. I remember hearing about the Planck experiment when I was an undergraduate, and it is wonderful to see that it is now aloft and that results are beginning to come in. Perhaps knowledgeable readers can comment on the significance of this satellite in the grand scheme of experimental cosmology.
Census rage: Canada’s Conservative government, which rarely does anything that could be construed as conservative, has made the uncharacteristically nervy decision to cancel Canada’s mandatory long-form census. Predictably, numerous government departments have erupted in outrage at the prospect of losing the data source they rely on. How will they be able to effectively manage Canadian society without the census data? Exactly.
Gregoriana: A group of cloistered nuns from France has won a competition to find the best female singers of Gregorian chant. They have been rewarded with a record deal on Decca. It has been often remarked how incongruous it is that recordings of Gregorian chant sell so well today, given that monasticism is about as far from the Zeitgeist as one can get. I suppose most people use it as relaxing background music, but I still think it good that this music gains a hearing, however haphazard. I must say though, with all due respect and well wishes to these Benedictine sisters, that the finest female singers of Gregorian chant have already made numerous recordings. I am referring, of course, to the luminous aural phenomenon called Anonymous 4: