Monthly Archives: April 2007

A Splendid Occasion

We’re back in Gotham, and will be resuming normal operations shortly. We were away on a whirlwind trip to the Midwest for the happiest of reasons: the graduation, with honors, of our daughter Chloë from the University of Michigan. Related content from Sphere

Strange Bedfellows

With a tip of the hat to Dennis Mangan, here are some striking public-service posters from France, warning of the dangers of AIDS. Shocking, perhaps, to some, so caveat observator. As mentioned below, waka waka waka will be off the air until the weekend is over. We’ll be on the road, and I won’t have […]

Never a Dull Moment

It’s been a very busy week indeed, and there has been scant time for writing, or for that matter, even thinking, it seems. I’ve had not a moment to join (for which I apologize) Titus Rivas and Bob Koepp in the excellent discussion that followed this post, and I’ve also had no time to prepare […]


There’s lots of interesting news these days from really faraway places; if you’re interested in such things, you should subscribe to two of the newsletters I get: one published by NASA, and the other from There are three stories I’ll mention tonight. Related content from Sphere

The Empty Computer

The noted computer scientist David Gelernter has been working on what he believes will replace the World Wide Web. He calls it the Worldbeam. Learn more here.

Epiphenomenalism: Cause for Concern

In remarking on a recent post, commenter Titus Rivas offered a link to a paper he and Hein van Dongen wrote in 2001, in which they launch an assault on the mind-body model known as epiphenomenalism. Epiphenomenalism is the view that the subjective, conscious mind is a causally impotent byproduct of the physical activity of […]

Kevin Kim on Cho

Readers are encouraged to have a look at this thoughtful piece by Kevin Kim, in which he examines freedom and responsibility in the wake of the Virginia massacre.

Notes From The Edge

An item in today’s Times reports a new and important result from a major European research facility. After years of painstaking investigation, the Vatican has announced that Limbo, an area where the souls of unbaptized babies and of the multitudes who lived before the time of Christ were previously understood to dwell — not in […]

The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be

Peas as Large as Beets! Hot and Cold Air from Spigots! …I haven’t the time this evening to disgorge any of the usual tendentious bloviation, so I thought I’d share with you a breezy little item I stumbled upon this morning, when I should have been working. Man Will See Around the World! No Foods […]

Miscarriage of Justice?

There is quite a ruction, as we might expect, over the Supreme Court’s ruling upholding a Federal law barring “partial birth” abortions, and even the justices of the Supreme Court seem quite angrily divided. This is law at its most difficult, in which separating the rights and interests of the parties involved — in fact, […]

Lake of Fire

In the wake of the horror at Virginia Tech, folks around the world, and here at home, are expressing a predictable variety of responses. The Left is calling for stricter gun control, the Right for stricter immigration, the Europeans are criticizing our violent culture, and all sorts of people are focusing on the Asian-ness, or […]

Law of Diminishing Returns

A few days ago the New York Times offered a revealing glimpse of the august body of solons by whose sage and impartial judgment New Jersey law is made.

The Elements Rage

We’re back in Gotham, delayed for a day by the immense storm that has battered the Eastern Seaboard. We sat out the tempest in Wellfleet, Massachussetts, which is situated on a narrow spit of land twenty-five miles out to sea, and which took quite a pounding, as you might imagine.

Call of the Wild

Back in early March I called readers’ attention to Colony Collapse Disorder, which is the name given to an alarming development: bees abandoning their hives, never to be found. This ominous phenomenon, which presents a major threat to our food supply, is already a serious problem — here on the East Coast, it is estimated […]

My Lucky Day

Today is Friday the 13th, an occasion that many folks regard with a wary eye. Not me, though: as it happens, I was born on a Friday the 13th, 51 years ago today. So whenever they pop up I always think of them as auspicious. Of course, as a man of science, I realize that’s […]


Imus, Imus, Imus, Imus, Imus, Imus, Imus, Imus, Imus. Imus Imus Imus. Imus Imus Imus, Imus, Imus Imus Imus Imus Imus!


If you’ve ever set up a wireless home network using Windows machines, you know what a vexatious task it can be. David Pogue, tech reporter for the New York Times, shares his personal adventure here. It appears there is room for improvement. Related content from Sphere

And So It Goes

My friend Duncan Werner has just alerted me to the sad news that Kurt Vonnegut has died. Duncan’s note contained the following passage from Cat’s Cradle, which seems as apt as anything I might say: If I were a younger man, I would write a history of human stupidity; and I would climb to the […]

Shi’a Happens

Today’s Wall Street Journal features an informative piece by Mideast scholar Fouad Ajami on the changing balance of power in Iraq. An excerpt:

tceffE dnA esuaC

If you follow such things, you might be interested to read about an effort by a University of Washington researcher to demonstrate what is known as “quantum retrocausality” – in other words, backwards causation. Related content from Sphere

Tempest in a Teapot

There is a front-page story in today’s New York Times about a radical and highly controversial proposal that, if adopted, will almost certainly shake our civilization to its very foundations: voluntary guidelines for well-mannered blogging. Related content from Sphere

It’s Not Just Physical

In the last three posts in this series on mind-body interaction, we looked at some of the more serious objections to what is known as “interactionist ‘substance’ dualism”. After laying out a litany of difficulties with this model, I ended the previous entry by asking why anyone would defend such a view. There are several […]


From my good friend Duncan Werner, one of the cleverest people I’ve ever met (I’m sure he’d rather I hadn’t said that, but there it is), comes something brand new that I think will be a Big Deal indeed before long — and as far as I know, you waka waka waka readers are the […]

It’s a Hell of a Town

In recent years, though I still record an album or two a year, I’ve spent most of my working hours as a software engineer. Most of my code is written in the “object-oriented” language C++, and is designed to run on the Windows operating system. I took up this arcane profession just at the beginning […]

Red Hot Planet

Hard upon the government’s global-warming setback at the hands of the Supreme Court, we have new evidence that the Bush administration’s environmental perfidy knows no Earthly bounds. Learn more here. Related content from Sphere

Coke and a Smile

I can tell you from dolorous personal experience how difficult it can be, once you have confected a snappy little essay, blog post, or other other coruscating gem of tightly condensed prose, to come up with an apt and witty title; often it’s the hardest part of the job. So I have long admired the […]

Problem Solved

According to this news item from the Russian news agency Novosti, the Belgian region of Wallonia has found a potent weapon against human-induced climate change: a tax on barbecueing. As I’m sure our readers are well aware, a session at the grill can produce up to 50 grams of carbon dioxide. But rest easy: the […]

Going, Going…

I’ve mentioned this before, but my friend Patrick Goldsmith, who spent years collecting handmade art in Southeast asia, is selling his collection in order that he may move to China. He has a wonderful assortment of beautiful objects, and as time is short, he is willing to part with them at fire-sale prices. If you […]

Slipping Away

My friend Jess Kaplan calls our attention to an extremely disturbing development: schools in the UK are now avoiding the subject of the Holocaust in their history curricula in order to avoid offending Muslim students, whose social and religious programming often includes Holocaust denial. Related content from Sphere

Dead Man Walking

I’ve just run across an unsettling story on the BBC’s website: while we’ve been bickering about philosophical zombies, it appears that over in Cambodia they have to deal with the real thing. Have a look here.