Monthly Archives: January 2009

Just Imagine

In this clip from 1981, the future swims into view.

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich has been removed from office. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. Next!

Endangered Speeches

It’s time to leave immigration aside, and get back to our usual business; the past few days have given us enough to mull over for quite a while. Here, then is a project behind which waka waka waka can throw its enthusiastic and unambiguous support: Save The Words. Related content from Sphere


The little dust-up following Monday’s post was not, I’m afraid, this site’s finest hour, and I certainly take responsibility for doing a poor job as moderator. I had written the post during the day and evening Sunday, and put it up on Monday around lunchtime. There were a few responses early on, but I was […]

Gung Hey Fat Choy

So distracted have I been by a little melee (now ended) in another corner of these premises that I have neglected, I am sorry to say, to wish all of you a happy Lunar New Year. It is the Year of the Ox; may the markets be bullish. Yee’s Hung Ga will be taking to […]

An Immodest Proposal

A few days ago Dennis Mangan posted at his website, Mangan’s Miscellany, some remarks of mine about a notion he had been discussing: the restriction of immigration on the basis of race. This gave rise to a long comment-thread. The comments were of varying quality, but nearly universal in their agreement that anyone who might […]

Much Better Now

It is Saturday evening now, and at last I have the time to begin to respond to all this brouhaha about immigration and race. Tomorrow looks like a very quiet day, and I should have ample time to compose a proper reply. The problem tonight is that my Internet access has been on the fritz […]

Service Notice

So exhausted. Even complete sentences, subject-verb agreement is quite beyond me. Sleep first. Back tomorrow.


OK, waka wakans, I can use a hand here. I am once again working till at least midnight, and have no time for a post. But I would like it if you would visit this thread at Dennis Mangan’s, where I am alone under heavy fire, and have no time to respond. Go forth, and […]

Here Comes The Sun

I’m working late tonight (still at the office at 10:30), and have no time for writing. But as always I hate to send you away empty-handed, so I have a little tidbit that ought to give you one more thing to worry about. Have a look here. Related content from Sphere

Skunk At The Garden Party

After I posted this morning’s item, I watched the inauguration, along with the rest of the world. It is unquestionably a promising and historic moment, and I am not immune to President Obama’s charismatic appeal myself — but I have to say, at the risk of being a cranky old grouch, that I found the […]

And Now For Something Completely Different

Looking back over my 52 years, I must say I cannot recall anything like the giddy euphoria attending today’s inauguration. Perhaps the mood was something like this in January of 1961, but if so I was too young to remember, and anyway I doubt it. Certainly I don’t remember pilgrims descending on Washington in their […]

Trouble In Paradise?

Software engineers often imagine that Google must be just the best place to work. A couple of years ago I visited a friend who works in their New York office (which then was in Times Square), and I have to say it looked pretty good: a beautiful, modern office with all sorts of worker-friendly touches: […]

Avast, Ye Scurvy Dogs

The US has deliberately done nothing much to deal with the problem of piracy in the waters off the Horn of Africa; the idea was that this would instill a sense of urgency in other nations that had more at stake. One problem has been that nobody knew what to be done with pirates if […]

Two Views Of A Secret

In last night’s post we linked to a reminiscence about the late Patrick McGoohan. That essay, in turn, linked to another blog with a post about Mr. McGoohan, this time by a film writer by the name of Glenn Kenney. Mr. Kenny’s post is a good one, and if you were a McGoohan fan you […]

Mr. Warmth

We remarked with sadness the other day upon the death of actor Patrick McGoohan, star of the 1960s TV series Danger Man, Secret Agent, and The Prisoner. Our old friend David Pauley wrote in today with a link to this thoughtful essay about McGoohan’s icy appeal. Related content from Sphere

The Big Picture

There is a fascinating item making the rounds today. It seems that mysterious noise in an exquisitely sensitive gravity-wave detector may in fact be an indication that our instruments are now sensitive enough to detect the granularity of spacetime itself — and the argument is a very interesting one. The last time physicists announced that […]

Drake’s Passage

We must note with sadness the death of Patrick McGoohan, who was, I always thought, just about the coolest guy I ever saw on TV.

He’s Baaaaaaack…

Thanks to the kind and generous efforts of my friend Bob Wyman over at Google, Jeffrey Hodges’ blog, The Gypsy Scholar, is on the air once again. Go pay a visit. Many thanks, Bob. Related content from Sphere

Peace In Our Time

The New York Times reported on Tuesday that the Ethiopians, who have been fighting Islamists in Somalia, have given up.

No Exit

What next for Israel? Thomas Friedman, writing in today’s Times, suggests that Hamas will be chastened by the fury of Israel’s assault, as, he says, Hezbollah was after the battle of 2006. Related content from Sphere

Might As Well Be Drinking

We’ve been hearing for years how dangerous it is to talk on cell phones while driving, and many states have made doing so illegal. While I can easily see how distracting it can be to fumble with the device itself behind the wheel, I’ve always thought that merely talking on a cell phone, particularly a […]

Sui Generis

You may have heard of a man by the name of Christopher Langan. I first learned of him a few years back, when he was profiled on some television show or other. He has, apparently, one of the highest IQs ever measured; it is said to be somewhere in the vicinity of 200. He has […]

Latin King

Here’s another item from the Wall Street Journal’s Op-Ed page: a look at the rapidly consolidating dictatorship of the grotesque Venezuelan despot Hugo Chávez.

No-Win Situation

A week ago the author and military historian Max Boot published in the Wall Street Journal an insightful, if morose, essay on the difficulty Israel faces in the situation in Gaza. I neglected to link to it at the time, but it has lost none of its currency and relevance. I reproduce it below in […]

Counsel For The Defense?

The appointment of Dawn Johnsen as head of the incoming Obama administration’s Office of Legal Counsel got my attention when it was announced yesterday; Ms. Johnsen is well-known as a critic of the Bush administration’s efforts to strengthen the power of the Executive Branch. An op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal argues that with the […]

Another Way To Look At Things

We’ll get back to weightier matters before long, but the demands of the workplace press heavily just now, and there will be scant time over the next few days for serious posts. Tonight, though, I have an interesting little item for you natural-history buffs. Related content from Sphere

Where’s Jeffery?

Our little community here at waka waka waka is deeply concerned about the sudden disappearance of our friend Horace Jeffery Hodges’ outstanding website, The Gypsy Scholar. According to Blogspot his site “has been removed”, but anyone who knows Jeffery know that he would never close down his blog — at which he has written daily […]

Sorry, I Can’t Hear You

From reader JK, who never wearies of sending our way nourishing morsels he has plucked from the Web, comes this intriguing item: a new cosmic mystery.

Our Bodies, Our Selves

In addition to the Question Of The Year we mentioned in a recent post, the latest from also incudes an interesting essay by the prominent neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran on the physiological underpinnings of the self. Related content from Sphere

Interreligious Dialogue

Here’s an encouraging and heartwarming item from across the pond, courtesy of Gates Of Vienna.

Western Civilization: It’s A Keeper

New York City is a crowded, chaotic place. The public transit is bad and getting worse, and the weather is, generally, awful. Housing is cramped and expensive. The Mets and Jets collapse, like clockwork, year after year. But there are times when I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. This evening the lovely Nina and […]

That Time Again

Every year the website poses a provocative question to some of the world’s brightest bulbs. The 2009 question is out. Drumroll, please:

Is God Necessary?

I have said often in these pages that it seems likely that the human propensity for religion is a cognitive adaptation that has flourished because it tends to improve the cohesion of social groups, thereby increasing the fitness of those groups in competition against others. As David Sloan Wilson argues in his book Darwin’s Cathedral: […]

Service Notice

We are traveling today, so will likely be off the air until tomorrow. Please browse our archives, try the “Random Post” link at right, or join the ongoing conversation about the situation in Gaza. (Or all three.) Related content from Sphere

Moral Clarity

Charles Krauthammer, in today’s column, responds to those who see Israel as being at fault for bullying the Palestinians once again. His essay begins: Some geopolitical conflicts are morally complicated. The Israel-Gaza war is not. It possesses a moral clarity not only rare but excruciating. Israel is so scrupulous about civilian life that, risking the […]

What A Difference A Day Makes

The storm ended late last night, and as the clouds broke up the temperature fell sharply, down into the low teens. Today was sunny, but it was very windy, with a high of only about twenty degrees. This afternoon at about two-thirty or three I went back out to take some more pictures. Related content […]