Monthly Archives: November 2007

The Wizard of Odds

After a truly debilitating holiday bacchanal last night, followed (almost immediately, it seemed) by a long day at work, I’m far too pooped to post. But I do have something interesting for you to read, if you like. Anyone who pays attention to scientific and technological topics (or who reads the little messages generated by […]

Life Goes On

Readers of the New York Times will be familiar with Verlyn Klinkenborg, who contributes marvelous little essays to the editorial page. He lives on a small farm in upstate New York (“upstate” being a preposterously Gotham-centric term for the 97% of New York State that isn’t part of New York City or Long Island), and […]

We Are Doomed

Having set such a breezy tone with my previous post, I’m sorry to have to get back to more serious matters. But I’ve just been presented with further evidence, in case any was lacking, that Western civilization is indeed circling the drain: apparently the first season of Sesame Street, from way back in 1969, has […]

Dead Ahead

It is difficult for a thoughtful person to get into his fifties without a persistent and lurking awareness of our mortal brevity. At this point in life even those who have been fortunate enough to have been spared frequent doses of calamity have lost a good friend or a family member, and by the half-century […]

Slav Defense

We note that former world chess champion Garry Kasparov has been arrested in Russia for leading a protest rally. According to reports he has been sentenced to five days in jail. Related content from Sphere

Really Got To Ramble

About two weeks ago, I posted a little item called The Teflon God, about the highly evolved and adaptive unfalsifiability of religious “memeplexes”, in response to an item by William Vallicella. My post attracted the notice of Dennis Mangan, proprietor of Mangan’s Miscellany, and he commented on it in a post of his own, which […]


It was a long day at work; I didn’t get home until after ten, and haven’t had time to prepare anything for tonight. But, saving the day, my friend Jess Kaplan has brought an awfully provocative story to our attention. The topic is an exotic one, right at the edges of human knowledge and understanding, […]

Happy Thanksgiving

I’m too busy with the delightful chores of feast-preparation to write at length, so I just wanted to extend warmest wishes to all of you. High on the long list of things I have to be thankful for is the community of new friends I have met here at waka waka waka. Related content from […]

Warts and All

I don’t usually go in for sensational, gruesome stories in these pages, but having spent so much time today wrangling with commenters on the previous post, well, what the heck. Have a look here. Related content from Sphere

Stop the Presses

I might as well not keep the media on tenterhooks any longer. At the risk of confirming suspicions that I am nothing more than a Republican tool†, I hereby let it be known that, as regards the bouquet of presidential candidates on offer this time around, the one most likely to pick up the official […]

Feynman Redux

I’m still in southern California, and have had no time for writing today. So here is some more Richard Feynman for you. This clip is about ten minutes long, and unfortunately begins in mid-sentence; of particular interest, however, is the section from about 5:15 on, in which he talks about the built-in uncertainty of science, […]


One of the men I admire most — a genuine intellectual hero — is the coruscatingly brilliant (and untimely departed) physicist Richard Feynman (he was from Brooklyn, of course). Here he is.


I’m in San Marcos, San Diego County, California, for a couple of days, visiting my father. After a two-hour weather delay at JFK, another 50 minutes queued up on the runway waiting to take off, a six-hour flight, a fifteen-minute wait at LAX for an avaliable gate, a twenty-minute wait for luggage, and an hour […]

It’s a Love-Hate Thing

You may have noticed that a great many people seem to really, really hate George W. Bush. Here in Park Slope, Brooklyn, one of the “bluest” neighborhoods in America, there’s a tacit assumption on the part of everyone you meet that you, too, really, really hate George W. Bush. And why do all the people […]

Godless Brutes

Thanks to our friend Dennis Mangan, the curmudgeonly proprietor of Mangan’s Miscellany, for commenting at his website on our recent post The Teflon God. Dennis — with whom, by the way, we generally agree about most things — raises the objection, often made, that some of the worst brutality in recent history was committed by […]

Belligerent Design

The battle rages unabated between the pious and the heathens. Here’s tonight’s salvo: All things dull and ugly, All creatures short and squat,    All things rude and nasty, The Lord God made the lot; Each little snake that poisons, Each little wasp that stings,   He made their brutish venom, He made their horrid wings. […]

What Science Isn’t

I apologize for the sloppy editing of yesterday’s post. I try to be careful, but it is in the nature of daily blogging that occasionally one’s vigilance will waver, and poorly proofread material will go into print. The post contained both a repeated passage and a mistaken double negative, both of which have been corrected. […]

The Teflon God

As you know, the debate between theists and a-theists is heating up a bit lately. (That we can even have such a debate is a healthy trend, considering that in earlier days such disputes were resolved by burning the nonbeliever at the stake.) There will, of course, be no resolution of it, as theists make […]

Better Than Nothing

Some pressing personal matters having laid claim to my attention these past two days, I have had no time for writing. So for tonight, it’s “America’s Finest News Source” to the rescue, with two important stories. The first describes a startling discovery that might be just what our flagging economy needs, and the second follows […]

The Lion of Zion

A new book focuses on the lifelong loyalty and admiration that Winston Churchill, whom I consider one of the very greatest men in all of Western history, held for the Jews. I’ve just heard about it today, in a Wall Street Journal opinion-page item, but I’m sure I’ll be getting a copy. The article itself […]

Changing Places

I’m too lazy to write anything tonight, so it’s Hitchens to the rescue. No, not that Hitchens, but his brother Peter, who writes for the UK Sunday Mail. The item at hand deals with a pet peeve of my own: the pretentious and unnecessary revision of familiar place-names. In my day Ceylon has become Sri […]

Euthyphro and Con

The discussion of Divine Command Theory linked to in yesterday’s post is fascinating for me in more ways than one. I find it of interest not only in itself, as a thoughtful examination of an ancient and vexatious philosophical problem, but also on another, deeper level as well. Related content from Sphere

Command Performance

Given that I have arranged to sell off most of each day to a medium-sized international corporation, leaving me in possession of only a few meager hours each evening in which to pursue my own diverse interests, I find myself, as does anyone whose assets are insufficient to satisfy his needs, having to scrimp and […]

Into The Wild, And Out

Readers may be pleased to know that we did not in fact perish in this weekend’s storm, and are once again safely back in Gotham. I will say, though, that it was quite a ride: the winds did indeed perform as expected, knocking down many trees, and by Saturday afternoon had blacked out the entire […]

Sturm und Drang

As promised, the former Hurricane Noel is giving Cape Cod a virile rogering. The outer Cape — a narrow, longitudinal wisp of sand that comprises the picturesque villages of Chatham, Orleans, Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro and Provincetown — juts a long way out into the Atlantic, and is getting a far stiffer dose than points west. […]

This and That

We’re up at our little retreat on the far end of Cape Cod tonight, awaiting the arrival of the former Hurricane Noel, which is supposed to give these parts a pretty good thumping over the next 24 hours or so. I’m glad to be here for the storm — not only because I enjoy dramatic […]