Monthly Archives: September 2008

This American Meltdown

If you have, at this point, had a bellyful of this economic crisis, and rather than dwell on it any longer, are sensibly off drinking heavily and reading something broadening, then please ignore this post. If not, however, here is another very interesting look at how we got into this mess. Related content from Sphere

One Path Leads To Hoplessness, The Other to Utter Despair

I’ll confess that the more I stew over whether or not to hope this bailout takes place, the more I feel like a sort of Buridan’s Ass in reverse: equally repelled by both options. With a hat tip to Bill V., we offer an item from CNN in which Harvard economist Jeffrey A. Miron tells […]

The Subprime Primer

For those of you who still don’t quite get how we got into this mess: have a look here. (Be sure to click at lower left for full-screen mode, to best experience the incredible graphics). Related content from Sphere

Nice Going

The proposed Federal bailout bill died in the House today, and the markets plummeted in response, causing a trillion dollars or so of America’s wealth to vanish into thin air. I have no doubt whatsoever that the bill, a top-down rescue plan that rewards a great many powerful people for their catastrophic incompetence, is a […]

Brain Wars

We haven’t spilled much ink in here lately on the subject of the mind, but it is never far from my own. This evening I stumbled across the website of a marvelous organization: the Neukom Institute at Dartmouth, whose mission is “to foster collaborative research between computational science and other disciplines; educate future generations of […]


I do wish I weren’t so susceptible to the enervating effect of warm, damp weather. Today was exactly that: overcast and misty, without the slightest stirring of a breeze, too warm for comfort (mine, at least), with the humidity pegged at 100%. In me these conditions induce a feeble-minded torpor, a morose lassitude, an otiose […]


CNN is offering a new and helpful feature in their coverage of the recent Presidential debate: a complete transcript attached to a fully indexed video, with a search feature that allows you to enter a keyword or phrase and go right to that spot in the video clip. It’s not exactly an antigravity machine or […]

It’s On

Well, like many of you, I’m sure, I’ve just watched the first McCain/Obama debate. I’ll just blurt out a few first impressions. First of all, and above all, it is an enormous relief that for the first time in a very long while we actually have two plausible candidates, men of genuine intelligence and substance. […]

I Must Explain

Some of you may be wondering what’s going on around here. There are new links at the bottom of each post, and all of a sudden the place is overrun with garrulous and unfamiliar visitors, some of whom are, well, not quite the sort of commenters we’re used to seeing in here. What’s happened is […]

Slow News Day

Things have moved along a little since this morning’s post went up. It has seemed obvious since yesterday that John McCain, having galloped off to Washington in the role of the United States Cavalry, needed — in order for this flamboyant gesture not to be seen as the most transparent political grandstanding — actually to […]


By now, of course, you have all heard that John McCain, whose love of country and capacity for personal sacrifice know no equal, has sorrowfully set aside his personal ambitions to answer, once again, the call of duty. It is hard to find fault with Mr. McCain’s ostensible purpose here. One can certainly argue that […]

The Case For Conservatism

I’ve had my differences with Maverick Philosopher Bill Vallicella over the past few years — he can be an obstinate cuss, and we have divergent views on a variety of topics. But I’ve always admired his intelligence, scholarship, and the quality of his writing — and joining the conversation at his philosophical salon has appreciably […]

Service Notice

Apparently Bluehost, the company that hosts this website, will be doing hardware maintenance this evening for a couple of hours starting around midnight EDT. We’ll be down during that interval.

Bad News And Good News

Speaking this afternoon just a few short blocks from my Park Avenue office, Iran’s president Ahmadinejad informed us that the despicable American Empire is circling the drain, along with the suzerainty of our evil Zionist puppets over their innocent Palestinian victims. As you can probably imagine, I was downright chopfallen to hear such distressing news. […]

When All But He Had Fled

The good ship Britannia, with hull stove in and gunwales awash, slips slowly beneath the waves. Writing bravely from her deck, our friend, the estimable Deogolwulf, vouchsafes us a poignant glimpse of that mighty vessel in her mortal throes. Here. Related content from Sphere

Joy In Mudville

Today was the first day of autumn, which means it will be Christmas before you know it, and once again we’ll be racking our brains to find just the right gift for those hard-to-shop-for people on our list. My mother-in-law is a good example; she is is a woman of refined and particular tastes, and […]

Be Very Afraid

While I might have found, prior to the national conventions, reasonable arguments for and against electing either of the candidates now before us, the prospect of the blithely ignorant Pentecostalist “hockey mom” Sarah Palin succeeding Mr. McCain as President of the United States should he die in office is so appalling that, as I mentioned […]

A Potential Disagreement

Sorry for the dead air yesterday; I’ve gone and got myself involved in another wrangle over at Bill Vallicella’s, and spent too long over there to have time for a post here. The topic is the morality of abortion, which as everyone knows by now is a great sucking vortex of infinite confusion and intractable […]

Space Oddity

I try to keep my ear to the ground, which may account for my having missed an outré little story. Scientists from the Supernova Cosmology Project, who have been using the Hubble Space Telescope to scour the heavens for faraway stellar cataclysms, stumbled across something very odd. Related content from Sphere

Stooping To Conquer

If you’re like me, then Sarah Palin gives you the willies, just a little. I have nothing against conservatives — I hold fairly conservative views myself, on quite a few issues — but it’s the kind of conservatism she embodies that gives me the fantods. One of the things that has always appealed to me […]

How ‘Bout A Boycott, Boychik?

Fed up with those pesky Jews? Here are some tips for reducing your Zion footprint.

Sorry, Charlie

After a century and a half, it appears the Anglican Church may finally have got round to apologizing to Charles Darwin for its sneering reception of The Origin of Species. Better late than never, I suppose, though at this point it hardly matters; the approval of this archaic institution hardly seems relevant any longer. Story […]

The Great Gig In The Sky

We must note with sadness the death, from cancer, of one of the founding members of Pink Floyd, keyboardist Richard Wright. His Times obituary is here.

Current Events

The other day I read a little article about Google’s News Archive Search service, and thought I’d take it for a spin. I wanted to search for something that wouldn’t have been written about much for a long time, so after a moment’s thought I typed in the name “Czolgosz”, which readers will remember as […]

Party Lines

As always, there is a provocative exhange of views taking place over at the website It began with an essay by the psychologist Jonathan Haidt entitled Why Do People Vote Republican? Related content from Sphere

Vanishing Point

I headed home late from the kung-fu school this evening, and all the way along Eighth Avenue I could see the twin beams of light stabbing into the sky from across the river. They light them up every year: two colossal searchlights marking the place where all those people died, and the world changed, seven […]


As you have probably heard, the folks at CERN have fired up the Large Hadron Collider, and it seems to be working: at least, the lights came on, the clock started blinking “12:00”, and so forth. By some miracle, we are all still here, and have not been gobbled up by a strangelet, or yanked […]

Goldbricks In Them Thar Hills?

Is something fishy here? If so, maybe we’ll call it “Billingsgate“.

The Other Shoe

Today’s Times carries on the Op-Ed page an item by foreign-affairs correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg, in which he makes a grim prediction: a 10 to 50 percent likelihood of a nuclear strike against America by our Islamic foes within the next ten years. Related content from Sphere

You’re In Luck!

It is difficult sometimes, I will confess, to maintain a steady stream of penetrating insight and infectious wit. Although I know the pen is mightier than the sword, sometimes the flow of ideas is restricted, and occasionally, even despite all the momentous events transpiring in continents far away — like the approaching activation of the […]

One Thing Leads To Another

I realize that this may have limited appeal for most of you, but I just can’t get enough of this sort of thing. At the very least, it’s further proof that there is something for everyone on the Web. Related content from Sphere

With Friends Like That…

In today’s New York Times Magazine is an article, by respected Mideast hand Dexter Filkins, about the realities “on the ground” in the tribal areas of Pakistan — a region that belongs, in any realistic sense, not to Pakistan at all, but to the brutal and illiterate warlords of the Taliban. Filkins makes the case […]

The Magic Feather

In a comment to a recent post, reader David Brightly asked if I was worried that naturalistic accounts of morality “might lead to less good and more harm being done.” It’s a good question, and I am not sure about the answer. Related content from Sphere

I Am, Therefore I Think

In today’s New York Times is an account of some fine experimental neuroscience, and another revealing glimpse of the “merely” physical substrate of conscious experience. The story describes work done by an American/Israeli team of researchers into the neurological underpinnings of memory. By examining the activation patterns of individual neurons, the team found that they […]

It Varies

Glaciers are melting in Europe. Alpine valleys that have been blocked by rivers of ice for as long as anyone can remember are now passable on foot. This is due to the maleficent influence of human activity, we hear: in particular, due to humans of the gas-guzzling American entrepreneurial capitalist white male sort. But there […]


Reader JK, in a comment to our previous post, has pointed out something so amusing that it needs a post of its own, I think. When the presumptive GOP vice-presidential nominee was first presented to the public last Friday, she made an introductory speech in which she mentioned “nucular” weapons. I was horrified, of course, […]

Well Struck

Along with much of America, I’ve just watched Sarah Palin’s speech to the assembled Republican delegates, poo-bahs, and panjandrums. She made a very good showing, and my earlier characterization of her as nothing more than a “back-country Pentecostalist fishwife” was perhaps a trifle harsh. The speech was about what you would expect: a fawning introduction […]

Natural Goodness

There is an organization, which I expect most of you have heard of by now, called “the The Brights“. It is dedicated to the promotion of what it calls a “naturalistic worldview”, which it defines as being free of “supernatural and mystical elements”. The name, I think, is exceedingly unfortunate; it seems smug and pollyanna-ish, […]

Sad Sack

In Barack Obama’s speech at the convention last week, he presented himself as the nation’s best hope for the amelioration of a dolorous litany of woes. But is this glum tableau an accurate accounting of how most voters see the nation, and their own lives? Apparently not, according to this item in today’s Wall Street […]