Monthly Archives: September 2007

Same Old Story

Well, as we feared would happen, it appears that the peaceful uprising in Burma has been tamped down by ruthless violence. The UN has sent an envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, to speak with the ruling junta, and we can be sure that he will, at the very least, administer a stern finger-wagging — and if that […]

Today I Metablog…

I expect things to settle down a bit as of tomorrow, but writing at any length requires, for me at least, quiet time alone, which has been in short supply all week. So for tonight, I find myself reduced not just to “meta-blogging”, which is simply pointing readers to the work done by others, but […]

Low Life

I do apologize for the paucity of content around here this week. But don’t go away mad: here, with a hat tip to my friend Greg Estren, is some fabulous video footage of the exotic fauna of the ocean’s abyssal depths. Do have a look. Related content from Sphere

More Good News



Not having the time this evening for any long-winded jibber-jabber, I’ll share with you something nifty I’ve just run across: a new system that enables ordinary digital cameras to take multi-gigpixel panoramas. Have a look here, and zoom in all you like. Related content from Sphere

What Was Said

For those of you who are interested, here is a transcript of the events at Columbia University on Monday. Looking back, I suppose little was gained, and perhaps something lost, by Mr. Bollinger’s caustic introduction, although for those of you who have only heard about it, it is worth reading, because it is much more […]

Critical Mass

We note with considerable interest the goings-on in Burma these days, where the military junta that runs the country — one of the most repressive governments in the world today — is finding itself in a bit of a cleft stick as Buddhist monks are waging an ever-bolder campaign of civil disobedience. Were any other […]

Little By Little

Today’s Physorg newsletter (which, as always, I recommend to those of you who like to keep up with science news) contained a story about what looks to me like an important piece of medical research, involving the role played by tryptophan in cancer and other diseases. Have a look here. Related content from Sphere

In lumine Tuo videbimus creperum

There was a predictable ruction about whether or not Mahmoud Ahmadinejad should have been allowed to speak at Columbia today, and I must say that at the very least it was gratifying to see that he was given a chilly greeting. It was nice to see the academic community turning out to express their disapproval […]

Nota Bene

I have been busy this weekend with a two-day Iron Wire seminar (which is turning out to be one of the most interesting and esoteric experiences I’ve had in 32 years of kung-fu training), so for tonight I’ll just leave you with an engaging little diversion. It’s an online test of your ability to perceive […]

More from Mencken

Further wisdom from the Sage of Baltimore.

Rot In Filth, and Call Me In The Morning

Ask anyone these days, and they’ll tell you that health-care services in Cuba are second to none. Despite the island nation’s having been so thoroughly beggared by almost half a century of totalitarian Marxist rule that people drown themselves in rickety boats in desperate attempts to flee, even the humblest son of the soil, when […]

Rights And Wrongs

One hears a lot these days about a “right” to health care. I bristle at this, because I think the notion of “rights” as anything other than matters of human convention is rubbish. We may, as a society, choose to define our laws such that they include a “right” to those things we deem appropriate: […]

Has Stick, Speaks Softly

On September 6th, Israel did something in Syria, something about which they have been rather uncharacteristically mum. In today’s Wall Street Journal, Bret Stephens, ex-editor of the Jerusalem Post, considers what it might have been. Related content from Sphere

Down On The Farm

Our pal The Stiletto takes a pointed look at farm subsidies. Here.

Out Of The Pool

I’ve been swamped, and have had no time for the sort of brooding and omphaloskepsis required for gestating these posts. But today my friend Louis Franzetti sent along a copy of some recent Darwin Awards, and to keep you occupied this evening I offer a link that pops up a randomly chosen example every time […]

Our Public Servants

I’ve been spending a few days in our seaside shack, reading a little H. L. Mencken. The collection I have in hand is The Vintage Mencken: Gathered by Alistair Cooke (at a mere $11.96, you should go right ahead and buy it). In an essay entitled Mr. Justice Holmes, Mencken pauses briefly to assess our […]

Shatz Hits the Fan

Our friend Kevin Kim has recently begun and ended a storm-tossed relationship with a fellow by the name of Zach Shatz, who has written a slim book in which he attempts to explain Ultimate Reality through the prism of, well, prisms. Kevin did an interview with Shatz about the book (which, judging by this interview, […]

Separate Cages

It startles me how differently people can see things. We all like to flatter ourselves that our opinions are guided by naught but sweet reason, but we overlook that reasoning is in general terms simply a manufacturing process, and like all such processes its output depends sensitively upon its input. That input, however, depends in […]

Man of the Worlds

From my son Nick, a splendid young man, restless Internet spelunker, and the prop of my dotage, comes a link to what looks like an worthwhile website: The Worlds of David Darling. I’d never heard of the fellow, but according to Wikipedia he is a well-known British astronomer who has written scads of books. Anyway, […]

Mass Confusion

To do physical science, one needs uniform references for fundamental quantities: length, duration, mass, and so forth. Over time, as the need for accuracy has increased, attempts have been made to place the fundamental units on ever more precise footing. For example, the reference meter, which was declared in 1791 by the French Academy of […]

Today’s Homework

Here is some interesting reading for you all, courtesy of First up is an essay called Moral Psychology and the Misunderstanding of Religion, by Jonathan Haidt, in which he takes the “new atheists” to task for failing to develop a subtle enough appreciation of the adaptive underpinnings of religion, and of morality. He draws […]

Joe Zawinul, 1932-2007

I was saddened to see in today’s news that the great Joe Zawinul has died, of cancer, at the age of 75.

Really Good

As a software engineer, and a techie all my life, I don’t get all that excited about most of the products that come down the pipe. But this could really be the Next Big Thing: Windows RG. Have a look here. Related content from Sphere

Clothes Make The Man

Well, enough already, for now at least, with the religious stuff. I’m sure that readers are running for the hills after all that swooning about “numinous beauty and harmony”, etc. I had to make what I think is an important point, and I will return to it, I’m sure, before long, but for now, back […]

No Praise, No Blame

In last night’s post I tried to make clear that disbelief in God need not be correlated with the sort of spritual tone-deafness that Dr. William Vallicella argued for in a recent essay. Related content from Sphere

Sweet Soul Music

We have just passed the 10th anniversary of the death of Mother Teresa, and much is being made of letters, recently publicized, that indicate that she had grave doubts about the existence of God, and was deeply tormented by her own lack of faith. Related content from Sphere

Don’t Get Up

I am not, nor have I ever been, a “morning person”. I enjoy the peace and solitude of the nighttime; it’s my only opportunity to think long, slow thoughts without interruption. Related content from Sphere

That Oughta Do It

From Reuters, by way of our friend Jess Kaplan, comes a reassuring item about airline safety. Have a look here.

Tempest in a Teapot

We note with grave concern that the legendary Shaolin Monks, the state-sponsored Chinese “wushu” outfit, have got their saffron-hued knickers in a knot over some incendiary remarks made by an anonymous commenter in an online forum of some sort. Related content from Sphere

This Magic Moment

In Kevin Kim’s excellent book Water from a Skull (which I will be commenting on in greater detail as time permits — meanwhile, follow this link and buy a copy), he quotes Mark Salzman’s book Iron and Silk, in which kung fu master Pan Qingfu says “live each moment as if it were your last.” […]

In Startling Development, World Ends

I realize, to use an apt metaphor, that when it comes to sports reporting lately here at waka waka waka, we’ve dropped the ball. Sure, we’ve covered some important events from time to time (see here, here, and even here), but when the deadline arrives each day, we usually find ourselves running other material: a […]

Happy Birthday Kevin!

It’s been a long day of work and travel, so we won’t be going to press tonight. However, please join all of us here at waka waka waka in wishing our friend Kevin Kim a very happy 38th birthday! Related content from Sphere