Monthly Archives: June 2008

Big Bang Theory

Tomorrow, June 30th, marks the 100th anniversary of the Tunguska Event, an immense cataclysm that occurred, mercifully, in a remote and mostly uninhabited region of central Siberia. Its cause is still debated, but it is generally agreed to have been an “air burst”, equivalent to 10 or 15 megatons of TNT, that occurred at an […]

Hanging Together

From my friend Wayne Krantz comes a link to a story that will appear in tomorrow’s New York Times: apparently some of Barack Obama’s younger and more enthusiastic supporters, having noticed that his middle name — Hussein — has been a heavy cross to bear, have decided to make it their own middle name as […]

Ars Longa, Data Brevis

I do almost all of my written correspondence by email these days. I’ve always liked communicating in writing, and I generally take email-writing as seriously as I ever did letter-writing. I’m not one of those people who writes emails like: dude u wanna go 2 the game? I got sum tix lemme know I appreciate […]

Self-Defense Defended

This just in, from the Washington Post: The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Americans have a right to own guns for self-defense and hunting, the justices’ first major pronouncement on gun rights in U.S. history. The court’s 5-4 ruling struck down the District of Columbia’s 32-year-old ban on handguns as incompatible with gun rights under […]

Pool Filter

In response to yesterday’s item about punitive sterilization, a reader e-mails: I think maybe the main problems are that it is an extreme punishment, taking away an obviously fundamental “right,” and the irreversibility issue in a world of inaccurate justice. In that regard, it is outside the penal philosophy of “rehabilitation,” … which should be […]

Just Curious

Some topics seem to be entirely off limits for discussion these days. Often, they are ideas that not all that long ago were not only not taboo, but were embraced at the highest levels of progressive academia and government, right here in the USA. To the philosophically minded, though, there are no off-limits topics — […]

As Bad As It Gets

Someone mentioned the author Jerome Bixby today, and it brought to mind his short story It’s A Good Life — which I think is the most horrifying piece of fiction I have ever read. I looked to see if anyone had posted it online, and indeed someone has. If you haven’t read it, it’s here. […]

Stopping The Buck

In scattered posts over the past weeks, we’ve been circling warily around the ancient puzzle of free will, looking from various angles at some of the opinions, beliefs, worries, and wishful thinking that inform our opinions on this vexatious topic. The biggest worry, it seems, is the threat to our moral responsibility posed by the […]

Brains Dropping

Tonight, so soon after the death of Tim Russert, we must sadly note the death of another nimble and influential mind: George Carlin. He was only 71.

Thanks For The Horse

There’s a piece in today’s Times Magazine that is so breathtakingly misbegotten that I am reduced nearly to speechlessness. I had thought of giving it a thorough, line-by-line fisking, but as blogger Steve Sailer also realized upon reading it, it simply stands on it own, a fantastic self-caricature. It is, essentially, an argument that European […]

Obama: Moving On?

There was a heartening item on the Washington Post’s editorial page a couple of days ago, describing a conversation between Barack Obama and the Iraqi foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari. Mr. Obama, who prior to becoming the presumptive nominee made an effective play for the left wing of the Democratic base by declaring his support for […]

Heart of Darkness

Commenting on domestic politics has been such hard work lately — who’d have thought that people had such strong opinions? — that tonight we turn our attention to faraway Africa, where, they tell us, Zimbabwean pooh-bah Robert Mugabe has shown a rather mulish reluctance to abide by the results of recent elections. In a gracious […]

Hold Your Fire

Being rather worn out tonight, I shall refrain from posting another political screed; I also have a busy day at work tomorrow, and shall have no time for responding to the inevitable reactionary hagiographies of whatever Progressivist huckster I might have chosen to poniard. I do feel the need, however, to take a moment to […]

Life In The Vast Lane

It is hard to imagine that anyone has had a more difficult spiritual path than Al Gore. The struggle against personality is central to all esoteric systems of inner work, and life has placed obstacles in his path at every turn: a privileged boyhood in a powerful political family, an Ivy League education, election to […]

Trouble in Paradise

From reader JK comes a link to an article about a growing tension in the Persian Gulf. No, it isn’t between the Sunnis and the Shi’a, or between US diplomats and the Iraqi parliament, but between Islamic fundamentalists and those in the region who, having attracted enormous foreign investment, and having used it to build […]

Food For Thought

We’re back in Gotham after a splendid visit to San Francisco (and a long break from blogging). The cool and breezy weather was a delightful respite for a thermophobe like me, and each day the lovely Nina and I walked for miles, hammering in pitons as needed, and rappelling down the steeper blocks. One of […]

Tim Russert, 1950-2008

We’re off duty for the next couple of days: the lovely Nina and I are enjoying a brief visit to San Francisco (look below the fold for a view of Nob Hill, with fog rolling in, as seen from the 12th floor of the Mark Hopkins Hotel). But I did want to take time out […]

Outta Here

Off to the West Coast for a few days.

Windshield and Bug

The nation of Indonesia is often cited as an exemplar of a “moderate” Islamic society (though of course it has had its share of Muslim extremism and terror). It is far from a being a tolerant, pluralistic society along Western lines, however; though one is “free” to worship, only five religions are on the list […]

Boy, Is It Hot…

It is far too hot to write, or even think cogently. New York’s infrastructure is collapsing under the strain: the power grid is failing, and subway service is becoming chaotic as outdoor sections of track begin to buckle in the heat. Broken-down vehicles are clogging the streets and highways, and after waiting to cross Madison […]

A Rough Go

It is hard to write at the moment; all of us here in Gotham have been reduced to shambling, gibbering zombies by recent meteorological events. Just a few days ago — though it might as well have been decades, so utterly has the recent catastrophe effaced any lucid memory of happier times — all seemed […]

A Little Light Reading

From my friend Jess Kaplan comes a little news item that doesn’t amount to much, really, in these tempestuous times, but which made a nice break from the customary media diet of catastrophe, vice, and woe. It’s about a little lost lighthouse.

One Ring To Bring Them All

I haven’t commented lately on the presidential race, but I’m certainly pleased that Mrs. Clinton, who gives me the shuddering fantods, appears finally to have been knocked out. Short of some gruesome work with an oaken stake and a wooden mallet we can’t be sure, however, and yesterday Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto, who […]

Help Wanted

In yesterday’s post we looked at the possibility of an impending “Singularity”, a convergence of various accelerating lines of progress in a number of technical and scientific fields that futurist Ray Kurzweil thinks will be an unparalleled historical disruption. When a sort of critical mass is reached, Kurzweil suggests, the result will be a colossal […]

One Singular Sensation

In today’s New York Times is yet another mention of a notion that seems to be attracting a lot of attention lately: Ray Kurzweil’s idea of an impending technological “Singularity”. The concept is simple enough: if we look at the history of the world, we see a consistently accelerating rate of progress — first biological, […]

This and That

Well, we’re back. Our latest “Service Notice” post generated a reasonable question from reader Charles L., namely: why do I bother announcing that I won’t be posting? After all, it’s not as if the trains won’t be running, or the beer will stop flowing, and I realize it must seem a bit presumptuous to imagine […]