Monthly Archives: December 2008

December 31st, 2008

We are up in Wellfleet for the holiday, and were treated to a winter nor’easter that took the form of an impressive blizzard. It began at about ten this morning, and before long the roads were covered, the wind was blowing hard, and the visibility was down almost to zero. I got into my reliable […]

To Make A Long Story Short…

Over the transom today comes another item from our friend Jess Kaplan, mentioning yet another eccentric Russian academic. This time around it is a mathematician by the name of Anatoly Fomenko. Related content from Sphere

A Less Perfect Union

Our friend Jess Kaplan has sent us a link to an article in the Wall Street Journal informing us that according to a prominent Russian political analyst, the U.S. is about to fall apart. Related content from Sphere

Truth, Or Consequences?

The debate continues at Mangan’s; the issue is whether one can genuinely be interested in conserving the virtues of Western society while at the same time publicly questioning the truth of the central claims of Christianity. The Christians in the conversation would, unsurprisingly, like us to agree that Western civilization is essentially and inextricably bound […]

Hop Heaven

I’ve just got my hands on something I’ve been looking for, off and on, for a couple of years now: a bottle of Dogfish Head 120 Minute India Pale Ale. Related content from Sphere

Because They Say So

In a comment to a recent post, reader Greg Estren raised a question that has been implicit here for quite some time. Should we encourage religious belief, even if we think religion’s claims are false? We asked this same question, regarding the notion of objective moral truths, back in September: are these beliefs genuinely necessary […]

Some Dot!

Our pal Kevin Kim, in a recent post, linked to a video clip featuring Carl Sagan’s famous “Pale Blue Dot” monologue. On Valentine’s Day of 1991, at Sagan’s request, the spacecraft Voyager 1 was turned toward the Earth to capture an image of its faraway home. The doughty little doohickey was, by then, about four […]

Merry Christmas

To all of you, with heartfelt appreciation and warmest wishes. (Yes, I appreciate the ironic juxtaposition of this and the previous post, but even we Godless heathens can enjoy this winter holiday. We had it first, anyway.) Related content from Sphere

Standing Athwart Religion

If you have gone to look at the post and comment thread about Christianity over at Dennis Mangan’s, you will have seen that Dennis, an unbeliever who considers himself a conservative, must confront the assertion put to him by Lawrence Auster: that it is simply not consistent to be both a conservative defender of Western […]


Democracy is best for the unexceptional man.

Beta Watch Out

Have a look at the picture below. Whom would you say is in charge?


From number 136, in the Krailsheimer edition: Sometime, when I set to thinking about the various activities of men, the dangers and troubles which they face at Court, or in war, giving rise to so many quarrels and passions, daring and often wicked enterprises and so on, I have often said that the sole cause […]

Sorely Missed

If only H. L. Mencken were with us today. We do have some gratifyingly caustic talents currently in harness, but when Mencken was feeling the warp-spasm he was incomparable. I have no doubt that Christopher Hitchens would go dry for a year just to have lunch with the man. What Mencken would have to say […]

Of God And Mangan

The thread has lengthened over at Dennis Mangan’s since I linked to his recent post about religion, and again I urge you all to go and read it. He has been engaged primarily with the conservative writer Lawrence Auster, who has been defending his Christianity against Mr. Mangan’s skeptical atheism. No, that is wrong: Mr. […]

Wise Guy

Sorry about the blank page yesterday; I expended what fuel I had in the comment thread of this recent post. It might be worthwhile to sum up a little later in a new one, and to promote some remarks made in that discussion to the front page, but today is a busy day. Meanwhile, then, […]

It’s Alive

A couple of years ago we mentioned the Antikythera Mechanism, a 2,100-year-old clockwork device that was recovered in 1902 from a Mediterranean shipwreck. The gizmo has baffled the boffins since the day it was found, as it represents a level of engineering expertise that nobody would have imagined to have existed in 80 B.C. (and […]


You should all drop in on Dennis Mangan, who has been having a conversation about God. It seems his views are nearly, if perhaps not entirely, congruent with my own. Related content from Sphere


Reader Court Merrigan, in a comment to last night’s post about New York State’s proposed “obesity tax”, quite rightly calls me on the carpet for likening the Paterson administration’s plan to the public-health policies of the Nazis. As he suggests, I ought to be able to make my case without resorting to such analogies — […]

Thar Be A Storm A-Brewin’

Somalia, probably the most dangerous place on Earth, is in the news again. The UN Security Council today voted unanimously to adopt a US proposal to take “all necessary measures” to bring piracy under control. Our insider sources tell us that it appears that arrangements are already being made for land operations as well as […]

Next, They’ll Make The Trains Run On Time

New York’s economy is in big trouble. The state has an enormous budget gap to close, and toward that end the Paterson administration has proposed a measure that is such an egregious miscarriage of governance, as well as being so audaciously stupid, that I can hardly find appropriate language with which to disrespect it. Related […]

Right And Wrong

Dividing my time, as I do, between New York City and Wellfleet, MA, I hang with a pretty liberal crowd. In social settings, if the conversation gets round to politics, human nature, economics, religious pluralism, or a number of other topics, it’s pretty much given that at some point I am going to be glared […]


Number 113, in the Krailsheimer edition: It is not in space that I must seek my human dignity, but in the ordering of my thought. It will do me no good to own land. Through space the universe grasps me and swallows me up like a speck; through thought I grasp it. This is excellent, […]

Some Holiday Cheer

Having trouble getting in the Christmas spirit? With yet another hat tip to our reader ‘JK’, here’s a story that has it all: solid religious content, a prophet in the wilderness, and, if the story’s true, an impressive display of lights. Related content from Sphere

…And If You Don’t Mind, I Have a Follow-up

From this evening’s Borowitz Report: Yankees Sign Iraqi Hurler Shoe-throwing Right-hander Impresses Scouts In their latest bid to beef up their pitching rotation for the 2009 season, the New York Yankees today signed Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zeidi to a three-year deal worth $32 million. The right-handed al-Zeidi, 28, impressed the Yankee scouts with his performance […]

Buckle Up

Making the rounds at my office last week was a video clip about the exponential pace of technological change. To the accompaniment of an urgent techno-pop soundtrack, in an onimous minor key, it presents a series of factoids illustrating the implosion of accustomed time-frames, giving the viewer the impression that the acceleration of technological, social, […]

Cape Cold

We are back in Wellfleet for the next few days, having driven up here after work yesterday. We arrived at about one a.m., under a startlingly brilliant full moon, with an icy wind shaking the pines and bare oaks. Related content from Sphere

Isn’t It Romantic

With yet another hat tip to our friend JK, who has been tirelessly throwing odds and ends over the fence, here is an item that falls squarely in the “odds” category (though I suppose it involves “ends” as well). Related content from Sphere

The Other Shoe

My insider sources tell me there is an “uptick” in the “chatter” lately; this is their way of saying that the murmurous rustle of nefarious voices has got louder, or more insistent, or something, and that it seems more likely than usual that some horrible and murderous attack might be imminent. Related content from Sphere

Enough Already

Here’s an item I meant to mention a few days ago. Published on December 5th, the 75th anniversary of Prohibition’s repeal, it is an eloquent call for an end to our nation’s misguided war on drugs. While our neighbor to the south sinks into violent anarchy, and the Taliban enriches itself producing opium, we continue […]


Number 47, in the Krailsheimer edition: Justice and truth are two points so fine that our instruments are too blunt to touch them exactly. If they do make contact, they blunt the point and press all round on the false rather than the true. Related content from Sphere

What Is Truth?

In commenting on a recent post, our reader and commenter Addofio, parsing the distinction between truth and opinion, says that “it all depends on what we mean by ‘true’”. Kevin Kim takes a good preliminary poke at the question over at his place. Or, as my friend Anthony Bouza once explained it, in closing a […]

She Had Me At “”

Something new for our sidebar, courtesy of our friend David Duff: Sister Wolf.

It’s Been Fun

Reader JK, who has his ear to the ground at all times, alerts us to some worrisome news. Apparently the prevalence in the environment of certain chemical pollutants has reached such high levels that a broad assortment of vertebrate species are producing increasingly “feminized” males. Related content from Sphere

Ya Gotta Believe

There was a news item a day or two ago about some advertising put up in several cities by an association of Godless heathens. The ads suggested that folks should reconsider their belief in a supernatural deity; one went so far as to make the direct assertion that there is no God at all. The […]

The River Lethe

Any one who has paid any attention to neuroscience in the past few decades knew of the sad, strange case of “H.M.”, who, as a young man in 1953, underwent brain surgery to control persistent seizures. The operation did indeed quiet the storm inside his skull, but a terrible cost: the surgeon had removed part […]


Number 47, in the Krailsheimer edition: “We never keep to the present. We recall the past; we anticipate the future as if we found it too slow in coming and were trying to hurry it up, or we recall the past as if to stay its too rapid flight. We are so unwise that we […]

With Friends Like These…

Thomas Friedman, in his column in today’s Times, notes the usual silence from the world’s “moderate” Muslims in the wake of yet another despicable act of mass murder in the name of their religion. Related content from Sphere

Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam

I have several email accounts, and I get plenty of spam, just everybody else. Every now and then, though, something comes in that I simply cannot, for the life of me, imagine why anyone would bother to send. Here’s the latest example: Hello , Am David i want to know if u carry (Aluminum Planks) […]

India Ink

In yesterday’s Times the conservative columnist William Kristol notes how reluctant some are to acknowledge the Islamic roots — and explicitly Islamic agenda — of the terrorists who attacked Mumbai last week. Related content from Sphere