Monthly Archives: July 2008

Laid Up

In the comment thread in the previous post I mentioned that I felt unwell enough to visit the hospital on Tuesday. I haven’t left yet. Here’s the story.

The Meaning of Life, Continued

A couple of weeks ago I posted an essay in response to a post of Bill Vallicella’s on whether life might have an objective meaning. In his piece Bill argued that any attempt to offer a purely subjective interpretation must lead to an infinite regress, and therefore must be false. I responded, drawing on work […]

Cuil It

There was a significant debut on the Internet today: a search engine that may well give mighty Google a run for its money. It is the brainchild of Anna Patterson, who had previously written a search application that impressed Google so much they bought it in 2004, and hired her as a technical lead, when […]

The Wall

There seems to be something going round the blogosphere lately; a number of folks seem recently to be afflicted by a debilitating malaise, an enervating ennui, that has made it hard for them to carry out their duties. Dennis Mangan is on open-ended leave; Deogolwulf has expressed his own weariness with the undertaking; Bill Vallicella […]

Service Notice

I’ve been very busy with work and travel, so I might have scant time for attending to my duties here for the next few days (though I will as time permits). I have also been given plenty to mull over in our ongoing meaning-of-life dust-up. Back by Monday or so, if not sooner. Meanwhile, the […]

What To Do?

We’ve been giving morality, and the universality of moral intuitions, a good going over lately (particularly in this discussion, which now has over 100 comments). Readers with an interest in this topic might like to have a look at Harvard University’s Moral Sense Test. Feel free to share your thoughts here. Note: Don’t read the […]

Gas Attack

Don’t like having your freedoms infringed? Worried about the economy? Forget the Patriot Act and the credit crisis; here comes the EPA.


Our reader JK continues to deliver: in this case a highly unsettling article about the possibility of a devastating collision with an asteroid or comet. Because such objects often strike the ocean, or detonate in the air, leaving no crater at all (as in Tunguska 1908), our estimates of their frequency may be far too […]

Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

On the opinion page of today’s New York Times is a worrisome assessment of the clouds gathering over Iran. Here.

May Cooler Heads Prevail

With a hat tip to Bill Vallicella for the link, we direct you to the current issue of the American Physical Society’s newsletter Physics and Society, in which this august body announces its wish to get to the bottom of the hotly debated issue of anthropogenic climate change. Related content from Sphere

Eye Of The Beholder

I’ve long been puzzled by ambiguous figures, ever since I saw the famous Necker cube as a boy. What changes in the brain when the perception “flips”? (There had better be something.) Related content from Sphere

It’ll Be A Blast

If, against all odds, I make it to the age of 80, I might have quite a birthday. A smallish asteroid called 99942 Apophis (which will also be making a close flyby the day I turn 73, on Friday, April 13th, 2029), might be blowing out my candles for me. Have a look here, and […]

Obama 273, McCain 265

Here’s the latest political newsletter from Robert Novak. (Feel free to comment, but no Valerie Plame, please.)

Too Little, Too Late

Today’s Wall Street Journal carries an editorial item about the belated and largely symbolic response to the depredations of the Sudanese government. Here.

It’s Different For Girls

In today’s Times, John Tierney calls our attention to the possibility that the government may soon be imposing “Title IX” requirements on university science departments, because there aren’t “enough” women going into fields like physics and engineering. This is dangerous territory, of course; we all remember the shameful pillorying of Harvard president Lawrence Summers for […]

Eine Kleine Nachtmusik

It’s too late for a serious effort here tonight: the memsahib and I spent the evening in Prospect Park, enjoying the New York Philharmonic’s annual outdoor concert. It was a splendid event, and well worth the arduous half-block trek to the park. The weather, by some freak accident, was delightful, with balmy breezes and a […]

Ars Gratia Everything

This afternoon the lovely Nina and I, realizing that today was our last chance, took in the Takashi Murakami show at the Brooklyn Museum, which is just a short stroll from our home. If you aren’t familiar with Murakami’s oeuvre, it is both lighthearted and disturbing, playful and serious, and squashes high and low art, […]

Reeling Shadows

Our reader JK, a Navy man who is a steady source of all sorts of information, has provided us this link to an item about gathering tensions with Iran. The source is the blog Information Dissemination, whose focus is naval matters. We read: Following an attack on Iran by Israel, Iran is not going to […]

Rightward, O!

Barack Obama has, since Hillary Clinton “suspended” her campaign, adjusted his position on quite a few important issues — heeling to starboard on every one in a most sensible and gratifying way. Indeed, the more I see of him, the more he seems to be a man who is actually willing to study complex issues, […]

Trees Eate But Once

A visit this evening to Jeffery Hodges’ website paid a double dividend: not only further coverage of the ongoing Fan Death crisis, but a link to a collection of “Outlandish Proverbs’, taken from a book of the same name published in 1640. Related content from Sphere

The Meaning Of Life

Dr. William Vallicella, the Maverick Philosopher, is back in harness after a month-long layoff from blogging. I’m glad he’s back on the job: he is as interesting and provocative as always. I’d like to weigh in on this post in particular, in which he argues that meaning, in particular the meaning of life, must either […]

Never Enough Time

After a splendid repast with my lovely wife Nina at an outstanding local eatery, I sat down at the computer late this evening resolved finally to get a meaty post written on at least one of the topics I’ve had in my sights this weekend. At the front of the queue are responses to provocative […]

Happy 4th

There’s so much to talk about: politics, moral responsibility, and even the meaning of life. But these holiday weekends are so full of amusing diversions and distractions that it’s hard to get down to business — which, I suppose, is really not such a bad thing at all. So for now I’ll just wish you […]

Snake Oil And Water

Feeling tired? Listless? Maybe all you need is some concentrated water. Just add water.

Dumb And Dumber

Democracy has obvious drawbacks, not least of which being that at its worst it is nothing more than mob rule. As William Alger said, “a crowd always thinks with its sympathy, never with its reason.” So the leader of a democracy, depending upon his aims and his talents, can seek to lead by addressing his […]