Monthly Archives: June 2007


Over at Dr. William Vallicella’s Maverick Philosopher website there is a dicussion thread underway, prompted by a silly item in the New York Times about cognitive neuroscience and the soul. In the original article, the author, obviously unfamiliar with the labyrinthine convolutions of mind-body philosophy, embarrasses herself with the following: But as evolutionary biologists and […]


No-one should be surprised by the grumbling on the Left about the Supreme Court’s decision on racial discrimination, for reasons that hardly need enumeration here. In broaching the subject at all I am on thin ice, as a white male: a member of a morally stunted, congenitally tainted group that is deemed in many circles […]

Sic ad nauseam

Michael Moore is on his (presumably steel-reinforced) soapbox once again. In his newest movie, Sicko, he brings his folksy propaganda style to bear on the American health-care system, which is, he alleges, fundamentally inferior to the socialized arrangements in place in other countries, including even the tyrannized and impoverished nation of Cuba (whose “revolutionary” medical […]

Big Fish, Little Fish

Today’s newsletter (which I enthusiastically recommend as an excellent source of news about all branches of science) had an interesting item about social hierarchies in fish. As is so often the case with discoveries of organizing principles in nature, the research is likely to help us understand not just the particular system under examination […]

You Gotta Believe

A little while ago we opined that, odd as it may seem, here in America the particulars of a politician’s faith matter less than that he have some sort of religious affiliation. Quoted in today’s Wall Street Journal, Mitt Romney seems to agree: I think the American people want a person of faith to lead […]

24 Weeks

I should probably have done a bit more research before posting the preceding item; the legalities in this case are clearer than I had realized. Most states, including Ohio, consider “non-therapeutic” abortions after 24 weeks to be unlawful; it appears also that the Ohio criminal code considers the “unlawful termination of another’s pregnancy” to be […]

Personal Opinions

As noted by Steven Pinker in his introduction to the 2007 Edge Question, there are some topics that one ventures into at one’s own risk. Here’s one: The police in Canton, Ohio, have just arrested one Bobby Cutts, Jr., for the foul and gruesome murder of Jessie Davis, who was due to give birth in […]

Richard Thompson

We had a real treat Thursday night: the Celebrate Brooklyn outdoor-concert series presented a performance by the Richard Thompson Band at the Prospect Park Bandshell. If you aren’t familiar with Richard Thompson, you should be: since his early days as a member of Fairport Convention back in the 60’s, he has been regarded as one […]

Picture This

While poking around at Andrew Staroscik’s brand-new biology weblog Mixotrophy, I found a link to a remarkable presentation, by one Blaise Aguera y Arcas, from this year’s TED Conference. He is describing a new image-display technology called Seadragon, which is in turn the engine that powers a new system, Photosynth, that programmatically assembles tagged photos […]

Thanks For Asking

Each year the website — which I will recommend once again to you all, as it is one of the Web’s most stimulating destinations — asks the intellectual community a carefully chosen question, presents the answers on its website, and then gathers them together into a book. Previous questions have included What Questions Are […]

Red in Tooth and Claw

We don’t often offer video selections in this space two days running, but time, unfortunately, does not permit a lengthy post today. So here is a remarkable glimpse of the vicissitudes of life on the veldt, featuring a herd of Cape buffaloes, a hunting party of lionesses, and even a crocodile or two. Place your […]

Land of Enchantment

Here’s an odd little item that popped up in the news yesterday: a strange ball of light (which, curiously, seems to cast a sort of shadow) moseying around the parking lot of the First Judicial Courthouse in Santa Fe, NM. It was picked up by a surveillance camera, and the video has been making the […]

Ol’ Reliable

With a hat tip to Peter Hankins, today we take a look at a simple yet outstandingly accurate piece of meteorological technology: the Weather Stone.

The Hermit of the Bronx

The late Victorian era was a time of smug certainty in the scientific world. The Darwinian revolution had the God of the Gaps on the run, technological innovation was accelerating briskly, and the great intellectual cataclysms of the 20th century — relativity, quantum mechanics, and Gödel’s theorem, foremost among many — were still nothing more […]

Indian Givers

Among the books and periodicals I have hoarded here at home are quite a few old issues of National Geographic: I’ve been a subscriber since the early 80’s, and don’t throw them away. I’ll often pull out an old copy in an idle moment, and yesterday I was looking at one from December 1988. The […]

Word On The Street

Today I drove my son Nick up to Becket, MA, in the heart of the Berkshires, where he will be spending the summer as a counselor at Camp Becket, a healthy and wholesome place if ever there was one. This morning my car was parked several blocks from my home, and as I was walking […]

H. J. Hodges on Tariq Ramadan

The prominent Swiss Muslim theologian Tariq Ramadan is a controversial figure: to some, he is an important moderate voice, one that could do much to heal the deepening rift between Islamic and Western culture, while to others his call for an assimilable, Europeanized form of Islam masks a more radical agenda that is closer to […]

Faith In The Process

One of the warmer and more persistent disagreements between liberal and conservative viewpoints in recent years has been over the commingling of religion with politics. We hear a steady drumbeat from the Left alleging that the Bush cadre is trying to turn the USA into a “theocracy”, and in academic circles, where the prevailing attitude […]

At Bay

We are back from San Francisco, having enjoyed ourselves immensely. We stayed at the highly recommended Huntington Hotel, on the Matterhorn-like eminence known as Nob Hill, with a delightful view northward over the Bay from the 10th floor. We dined at a succession of splendid restaurants (in particular I recommend Venticello and Rue Lepic), and […]

Service Notice

We will be gone for a few days: my lovely and patient wife Nina and I are off to San Francisco to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. I may have a moment here and there to write, but quite possibly not. We’ll be back at the beginning of next week, but meanwhile, please browse our […]

Happy Birthday

Today, June 4th, would have been my mother’s 72nd birthday. I thank again all of you who offered so many kind words of support during her last days, which were chronicled in these pages a little over a year ago. She was a truly exceptional woman, and we miss her terribly. Related content from Sphere

Duff Man

We call your attention to a recent addition to our sidebar: Duff and Nonsense, a website maintained by one David Duff, who lives and writes, I believe, in Ireland. Mr. Duff has commented on some recent posts here at waka waka waka, and upon following the links back to his own site, I spent a […]

It’s The Least Wonderful Time Of The Year

Well, it’s begun again: the annual descent into Hell that is summer in Gotham. Today got up to around 90°, with life-threatening humidity, and a pitiless white sky. These are, of course, optimal conditions for moving furniture up and down several flights of stairs, which was how I spent much of the afternoon, as my […]

Einstein and Freud

In the J. Robert Oppenheimer speech about Einstein that was the subject of yesterday’s post, we find the following paragraph: Einstein is also, and I think rightly, known as a man of very great good will and humanity. Indeed, if I had to think of a single word for his attitude towards human problems, I […]