Cosmos

I just want to put in a good word for Neil de Grasse Tyson’s series on Fox on Sunday nights. Despite the fact that he pronounces it “Kuzmose” (rhymes with “dose”), the program is excellent in every way. The science is well explained, the graphics are terrific, the historical references helpful, the photography superb: this is not low-budget PBS stuff. What I particularly like is that it gives no quarter to the anti-science factions out there: creationism, young earth, etc. We get the science straight and pure. No politics. Admittedly, last Sunday’s episode dwelt on establishing the age of the earth and the politics of lead pollution, which were clearly aimed at current “controversies”; but the cases were instructive and the series could hardly just ignore current politics. I found Dr. Tyson enthralling on astrophysics (his speciality): his mind is clear, his voice is strong, he looks good but not too good. This may be the best thing for science education in America since Carl Sagan did the first Cosmos. I also happened to catch part of a three-part series by David Attenborough covering his life in natural history broadcasting. His cut-glass accent varied over his life, and his weight has fluctuated, but his charm and dedication are undimmed. No one talks about animals as well as  David Attenborough. And he even held up a copy of an original edition of Richard Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene to indicate how profoundly it has affected his own thinking. All is not lost!

Nadal et al

Again Rafa fails to win in Miami, losing to Djokovic. He lost at Indian Wells to Dolgopolov. Close observers of these games will have noticed something evident also in Federer’s recent outings: being outplayed by other guys. Novak and Alexander simply out hit Rafa–they played better tennis. It’s not about fatigue or off days; it’s about who’s better at the game. Novak was faster, harder, more skillful; and the same for Alex. Alex has yet to tame his game into consistency, but he is an outstanding player–more naturally talented than anyone else, I’d say. Novak, though, has honed his game to perfection: impregnable defense, powerful offence from both sides. Rafa still has clay to assert himself, but he is starting to be eclipsed (like Federer). His will is no longer enough, or his looping forehand. 2014 should be interesting. I’m looking to Dolgo to show what he can do, but he has to tame his mind first.