Monthly Archives: October 2007

Old Time Religion

From our old friend Peter Kranzler comes a link and a question. The link is to this news item, which tells us that the infamous Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, has been ordered to pay $10.9 million to relatives of a U.S. Marine killed in Iraq, after church members jeered at people attending his […]


I’ve been a fan of Don Van Vliet, alias Captain Beefheart, for a very long time. Though you may not be familiar with him, he is one of the more influential figures in late 20th-century American music, and without question one of the oddest. Related content from Sphere

The Secret? Keeping Busy

Which animals live the longest? That’s right: clams. And according to today’s newsletter, we have a new champion. Learn more here.

Christians 0, Lions 0

I’ve just watched the debate I mentioned a few days ago: between Christopher Hitchens and Dinesh D’Souza on the topic Is Christianity The Problem? It was as interesting as I had expected; these are two sharp minds. Related content from Sphere

Common Cause

I haven’t time just now to write at length, but want to draw your attention to an excellent article, by one Sarah Baxter, from London’s Sunday Times. It examines the convergence between the Far Left and radical Islam, which arises from a confluence of several interests, loathing of America and resentment toward Israel being foremost […]

Dropping The Ball

It’s late, and I haven’t had time to prepare anything for this evening, so for now I invite you all to go and read two interesting posts over at Kevin Kim’s place. The first is his reaction to the D’Souza – Hitchens debate, and the second is an item about Hugh Everett’s “Many Worlds Interpretation” […]

Worlds In Collision

On Monday evening Christopher Hitchens and Dinesh D’Souza squared off for a debate at The Ethical Culture Society’s Manhattan auditorium; the topic was “Is Christianity the Problem?” I first heard about it from my friend The Stiletto, who sent me a link to an item by D’Souza announcing the event. Related content from Sphere

Myth America

In today’s New York Times is a review, by Michiko Kakutani, of The Terror Dream: Fear and Fantasy in Post-9/11 America, by the feminist author Susan Faludi. I haven’t read the book, and I am not about to comment on it. I did, however, read an Op-Ed piece by Ms. Faludi back on September 7th, […]

No End In Sight

In a recent post at his Maverick Philosopher website, Bill Vallicella responds to the following brief remark by philosopher Jim Ryan: The reason I’m an atheist is straightforward. The proposition that there is a god is as unlikely as ghosts, Martians amongst us, and reincarnation. There isn’t the slightest evidence for these hypotheses which fly […]

Watson In The Dock

A couple of days ago the Nobel laureate James Watson was all over the news: he had expressed, in an interview for the London Times, his opinion that scientific results indicated that black Africans were, on average, less intelligent than white Northerners. In a subsequent article, we read: Dr Watson, who runs one of America’s […]

The Trouble With Tribbles

In a previous post, I commented, perhaps a bit archly, upon the recent decision of the Portland, ME school board to give birth-control pills to young children without parental notification. While it is easy enough (and fun!) simply to jeer and scoff, now that I’ve got that out of the way I suppose we should […]

Get Your Mind Out Of The Gutter

In my morning visit to Kevin Kim’s place I found this post, in which he calls our attention to a hilarious video clip. This is not a family-oriented link (except in the sense, perhaps, of creating one). Adults only, please. Related content from Sphere

Spare The Rod

In today’s Times we learn that the King Middle School of Portland, Maine, will be doling out birth-control pills to its pupils. Eligible candidates will be as young as 11, and parents will not be notified. If you don’t believe me, take a moment to read the story for yourself. Readers will, of course, already […]

Short Shrift

There are several things in the news that are worth mentioning tonight; in particular I’d like to ruminate a bit on the James Watson imbroglio. But I’ve just got back from teaching class down at the kwoon, and it’s too late to begin a long post (especially as my forearms are a bit banged up, […]

Brownback Quits

I’ll chalk it up to natural selection That we won’t see Sam in the next election.

A Perfect Gentleman

As I was poking around at the newly added Policeman’s Blog (see our previous post), I came across an item that featured the video below, in which we learn how a proper Musselman is expected to treat the ladies. Related content from Sphere

Wot’s All This, Then?

If you’re like me — and I have no reason to assume you aren’t — you’ve been wondering: what is it really like to be an English policeman, anyway? Well, wonder no more, thanks to the latest addition to our sidebar (courtesy of the estimable Deogulwulf): The Policeman’s Blog. Related content from Sphere


I took a stroll through town this evening after work: from Grand Central down to the Lower East Side, with a stop at Pete’s Tavern to have a drink with a friend. The night air was enjoyable, and it was good to stir my bones after sitting at my desk in the office all day. […]

Mailed Fist

I’ve just read Sam Harris’s Letter To A Christian Nation. It is brief — one can finish it in an hour or so — but pungent. Related content from Sphere

Aw, Shucks

Today was the occasion of the 7th Annual Wellfleet OysterFest, and, as usual, folks came from all over to visit our charming seaside village, to browse the displays put up by our many artists and craftspeople, and, first and foremost, to gorge upon the succulent bivalves for which the town is justly famed. The beer […]

Mind Control

By now you have probably heard of Second Life, the enormously popular online “world”. I’ve poked around in it a bit myself, but am such a reclusive old grouch that I haven’t been inclined to hang around much. (One of the things I have found off-putting is the lack of a good audio interface, which […]

This Just In

My friend Wayne Krantz has sent along a link to an item in the New York Times about the social perils of email. The article, by psychologist and author Daniel Goleman, is entitled E-Mail Is Easy to Write (and to Misread). In it, we learn that: In contrast to a phone call or talking in […]

No Big Thing

Here’s a pretty picture:


I must say this is certainly NOT how I imagined that the early days of October would be. Five weeks ago I scribbled a post in which I gave thanks that the summer’s sticky warmth was soon to give way to the clear cool days of autumn. “The most beautiful months of all”, I said. […]

Just Doesn’t Click

I ran across an odd website the other day. Its purpose is to demonstrate what a completely click-free browsing environment would be like. The authors clearly think it’s better, somehow, but I don’t think I like it at all. How about you? See for yourself here. Related content from Sphere

Wild Weekend

I’m sorry to have been off the air yesterday; it’s been a busy couple of days.

Back To The Old Drawing Board

Well, enough politics for now. I’ve dwelt on the topic overmuch lately anyway; folks might get the idea it was something I’m actually interested in. I’m gratified, at least, not to have received the cataract of vitriol that I might reasonably have expected to follow that previous post, though it might be too soon to […]

Neoconservatism Reexamined

Neoconservatism takes a terrible pounding these days. The term “neoconservative” itself, and its common abbreviation, “necon”, are more often spat out in fury than with any understanding of what the word actually refers to, which is a coherent and morally informed school of thought that sees the traditional American ideals of liberty and democracy as […]

Richard Dawkins, 1996

My son Nick has sent along a link to a video, in four parts, of a marvelous lecture by Richard Dawkins on the topic of Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder. Dawkins is, of course, a controversial figure nowadays for his staunch criticism of religion, but like him or not he is a brilliant […]


The latest NASA newsletter contained an unusual item: it’s a video clip of Comet Encke (looking for all the world like a plucky little spermatozoon), which, having passed too close to the Sun, has its tail ripped off by a “coronal mass ejection”. Have a look here. Related content from Sphere

Fit To Print?

Violence declined sharply in Iraq last month. This was such unwelcome news at the New York Times that the story, which opened with the sentence “The number of violent civilian deaths in Iraq dropped precipitously in September compared with the previous month”, was presented “below the fold” on page 10, having been knocked off the […]

See Ya!

Well, it looks like John McCain is done. I don’t suppose that he had much of a shot at the Republican nomination anyway, but now he’s being roasted alive for some candid remarks he made during an interview at What was McCain’s unpardonable offense? Being a Christian himself, he expressed a wish to have […]

Religion of Peace

Since 9/11, there has been a steady drone of voices from the Left asking “why do they hate us?”†, and supplying, lest we might be tempted to assign any blame whatsoever to our enemies, a litany of reasons why U.S. influence in the world is toxic and malevolent. They assume that jihadist assaults on the […]