Monthly Archives: August 2007

September Song

Labor Day weekend is here, and while a lot of folks are moping about summer coming to an end, you won’t hear any griping from me. Just as the advancing weeks of May and June fill me with a gathering dread each year as the heat and fetor approach, when I get to the end […]

Growth Potential

As one who has taken, shall we say, a rather nonstandard path through life, I’m always gratified to see mavericks and autodidacts come through with the goods, and I’ve just run across a particularly noteworthy example. Inventor John Kanzius, of Erie, PA, who is battling leukemia, has developed a technique, using nanoparticles and radio waves, […]

Nasty By Design

In a rather heated post a little while back, I railed against the notion that a merciful God would permit suffering such as that of little Abigail Taylor, the six-year-old girl who was recently disemboweled in a horrifying accident. The universal, reciprocal cruelty of the natural world also offers bountiful evidence that even if some […]

Wafa Sultan

With a hat tip to our friend the Big Hominid, we direct you to a remarkable video clip, of the apostate Muslim gadfly Wafa Sultan engaging in a heated debate on al-Jazeera television. Sultan characterizes the struggle between jihadis and the West: The clash we are witnessing around the world is not a clash of […]

Weather’s Fine, Wish You Were Here

We are still more occupied with sun and surf than the glowing screen, but will be back in town, with nose reapplied to grindstone, this week. Meanwhile, a rather odd item from the frontiers of astrophysical research: it appears that there is an enormous hole in the visible universe, a billion light-years across. Lately it […]

Service Notice

The publication schedule here at waka waka waka may be a little gappy for the next few days: we are off on a family vacation (a rarity these days, with both kids entering early adulthood), and squinting at the computer for hours on end fits poorly into our activities schedule. We will, however, post up […]

Ghosts in the Machine

A few days ago we made passing mention of the Oxford philosopher of science Nick Bostrom’s Simulation Argument, which makes the claim that we are probably living in some sort of Matrix-like computer program. This dismal notion, which we looked at a bit more closely back in May, was also the subject of a brief […]

Bloody Fools


No, No, No, You’re Wrong

Many, perhaps most, fans would, if asked, name Sgt. Pepper’s as the greatest Beatles album of them all — and it was, without question, a work of coruscating brilliance. But many of us who grew up during that extraordinary period in musical and cultural history feel that it was the album immediately preceding that was […]

Heil Hugo!

We note with sadness, if not surprise, recent reports that the vainglorious popinjay Hugo Chávez is further consolidating his dictatorship of Venezuela by seeking to eliminate Constitutional term limits.

Gelernter on AI

Yale’s David Gelernter, the well-known computer scientist, has written an article in Technology Review on the problems that bedevil AI research. He has some interesting things to say — not only about AI, but also about consciousness itself — and it’s well worth your while to read it.

It’s Alive!

Longtime waka waka waka readers will recall that I used to work for an outfit called PubSub. It was an immensely promising idea, with truly revolutionary potential, but despite the fact that first-tier VCs were lining up around the block to give us money, the company perished in a spectacular (and wincingly public) implosion. I […]

Face Time

I’ve been working long hours this week, and have had scant leisure for thinking or writing. I hate to send you away empty-handed, though, after you’ve made the effort to check in, so here, courtesy of our friend The Stiletto, is an online test of your ability to remember names and faces. I actually did […]

From A Reader: Korean-Hostage Links

A reader who calls himself William has left an extensive comment on our recent post about the Korean hostages, in which he left quite a list of relevant links, prefaced by the follwing remarks: Hi, I’m also trying to learn what on earth these Koreans have got themselves into. Without passing any judgment on the […]

NASA Spaces Out

Here’s another interesting item about climate change, sent our way by Mike Zaharee. It appears that some of the data about which of the past hundred years or so have been the warmest may have been a bit off. See this post as well.

Freeman Dyson on Climate Change

Freeman Dyson, one of our greatest living scientists, has always been known for the originality and independence of his thinking. I’ve just read a remarkable essay by this formidable man, and hope you’ll read it too.

Hitting Machine

The revised and enhanced Barry Bonds, as some of you may know, broke Henry Aaron’s career home-run record yesterday by knocking the ball out of the park for the 756th time. His place in history is a controversial matter, however, due to his Bruce-Banner-like transformation from the wiry and slender athlete he was in the […]

War and Peace

In yesterday’s New York Times, the cultural critic and polymath Edward Rothstein discussed the central idea of Lee Harris’s book The Suicide of Reason: Radical Islam’s Threat to the West, namely that the Enlightenment faith in the progressive ascendancy of reason in human affairs is a false hope.

Gather Those Rosebuds

Kevin Kim, in today’s edition, outlines the typical career arc of a successful stand-up comic, from early aspirations at the microphone to washed-up Hollywood star. After spending many years doing freelance recording for the music-for-hire houses here in New York, I can offer a similar timeline, The Life of a Jingle Singer. Let’s say his […]

Giant Steps

With a hat tip to my old pal and fellow Power Station alumnus, engineer extraordinaire Larry Alexander, comes a mesmerizing animation of this John Coltrane classic, one of the high-water marks of Western civilization. Tommy Flanagan, piano; Paul Chambers, bass, Art Taylor, drums, and of course John Coltrane on tenor. If there is anything more […]

Obama on Foreign Policy

Here, from the journal Foreign Affairs, is Barack Obama’s obligatory term paper on foreign policy. (Thanks to my friend Jess Kaplan for sending the link our way.) Though the paper deals mostly in generalities, its tone is encouraging, and although I doubt Obama will get the Democratic nod next year, I was pleasantly surprised to […]

Frontier Justice

The Gypsy Scholar, Horace Jeffery Hodges, discussed the question of absolute national sovereignty in a recent post. It’s an important and difficult issue, and opinions vary greatly.

Yankee Go Home!

During Republican administrations there tends to be a steady seepage, across our northern border, of sanctimonious and neurasthenic lefties quitting the littoral zones of the USA to make new lives in Canada, their delicate constitutions overwhelmed by the populist social fluctuations permitted by our nation’s vastly more robust one. The Bush administration, which is pretty […]

Count Your Blessings

At least you aren’t a seven-legged, terminally constipated, hermaphroditic ruminant.

Gone, but Not Forgotten

Readers will recall that the bloated Bible-beater Jerry Falwell died a little while back; here’s a related item I ran across earlier today. It’s a video clip of Christopher Hitchens offering, to CNN’s ubiquitous Anderson Cooper, a post-mortem opinion of the porcine preacher (whom Hitchens refers to, at one point, as a “Chaucerian fraud”). See […]

Madman Across the Water

Elton John would like to do away with the Internet. He laments, as do I, that people no longer get together to make music, but do so now mostly alone, sequestered in their little digital studios. He’s quite right about that part; music has a strongly social component, and good things happen when people play […]