Monthly Archives: February 2009

Endangered Species

In today’s email, a friend has sent me some photographs of angry Muslims demonstrating on the street in what appears to be London. They are carrying signs, glowering menacingly, brandishing their fists, and shouting. The messages they carry are clear enough, if rather unimaginatively monotonous: SLAY THOSE WHO INSULT ISLAM. BUTCHER THOSE WHO MOCK ISLAM. […]

And Did Those Feet, In Ancient Times…

There’s an interesting little item in the news today: paleoanthropologists have found Homo Erectus footprints 1.5 million years old that record the earliest known example of anatomically modern human feet — feet that are designed solely (so to speak) for walking, and not for grasping. It is hard to imagine anything more evanescent than a […]

It’s A Wong Story

When I began learning southern Chinese kung fu toward the end of 1975, there were still very few Chinese masters who were willing to teach “roundeyes”; my sifu at the time, William Chung, and his sifu Gin Foon Mark, were among the earliest to do so. But the one who first opened the door, as […]

Jihad Blotter

With a double hat-tip to Dymphna and the Baron at Gates of Vienna, here are several items of interest on the clash-of-civilizations front. First, Geert Wilders is in town, fresh from being turned away at the door by the supine and craven British Government. He paid a visit to TV host Glenn Beck, and you […]

Thank You Sir!

In an editorial piece at CNN’s website, Michael Eric Dyson praises Eric Holder’s recent speech on race relations as “courageous and honest”, and suggests that Holder’s “nation of cowards” remark, which a great many morally stunted people have found tendentious and gratuitously offensive, has been “taken out of context”. Related content from Sphere

In God We Trust

If I told you that I knew there were invisible beings directing the flow of traffic on the highway, or that I had just seen someone rise from the dead and ascend into the sky, you’d want some proof — and if I had none to offer, you’d begin to doubt my sanity, and might […]


Every now and then I am reminded of just how exotic the most ordinary scientific notions seem even to the average “educated” American. For example: in Thursday’s New York Times, there was a story about some feeble little earthquakes along the Ramapo Fault. Related content from Sphere

Mr. Diplomacy

There is quite a ruction today about Attorney General Eric Holder’s calling America “a nation of cowards” for its reticence to speak frankly about race (transcript here). I wonder what he really means, and what he really wants. At the very least, it seems a tad atrabilious for the nation’s first black attorney general — […]

Clean Machine

Automakers, at least the ones that still have employees, are scrambling to design alternative-fuel vehicles. On the drafting board, or already out on the road, are cars powered by electricity, ethanol, natural gas, hydrogen, and even french-fry grease. But while I was poking around online the other day I discovered that even as early as […]


For those interested in the mortal struggle between Islam and the West (viz. those with the wit to acknowledge that such a struggle even exists), it’s been an eventful few days. The biggest story has been that the government of Pakistan has now surrendered the valley of Swat to the Taliban. The story in the […]


One of the enjoyable quirks of the Outer Cape is Provincetown’s own radio station, WOMR (“Outermost Radio”). The station is everything you might expect from a place as full of artists, writers, musicians, eccentrics, oddballs, and misfits as the far end of Cape Cod is, and the playlist is eclectic, and seldom boring. A particular […]

Credit Where Due

We congratulate Maverick Philosopher and Normblog for making the Times Online list of 100 best blogs. Cream does rise, it seems.

Ice Sculpture

We are in Wellfleet for the long weekend, and the Lower Cape seems particularly tranquil and beautiful under the blue winter skies. Yesterday the memsahib and I took a little spin up to Provincetown, at the outermost tip of the Cape, and along the way stopped at Longnook Beach in Truro to take a quick […]

In Brief

A reader has emailed us this link to a pithy, bullet-point summary of America’s security situation by retired general Barry McCaffrey (now Adjunct Professor of International Affairs at West Point). It’s terse, and worth reading. Related content from Sphere

This Time, The Shirts Are Red

Tomorrow is a big day in Venezuela: a vote is scheduled on a term-limits referendum intended to assist the swaggering egomaniac Hugo Chávez in the further consolidation of his fascist dictatorship. It appears that “El Comandante” is slightly in the lead. It will be interesting to see what happens if he loses. Related content from […]

The Most Dangerous Game

Things are not going well in Afghanistan. A resurgent and emboldened Taliban has been harrying the Karzai government and its Western allies with renewed truculence, even going so far as to make a brazen attack this week in the heart of Kabul. Meanwhile the Russians, who have for centuries vied with the West for dominant […]

Good Friday

Today is Friday the 13th. Having actually been born on such a day, way back in 1956, I’ve never been given to friggatriskaidekaphobia myself, but anxiety about Friday the 13th lingers as one of our more persistent superstitions (taking a distant back seat to religion, of course). It’s said that to have been born on […]

This Is Taking Too Long

If Charles Darwin were alive, he’d be 200 years old today, and there has been an enormous outpouring of ink commemorating the great man’s bicentennial. From reader JK comes a link to a Pew Research Center article on the degree to which acceptance of his “dangerous idea” — in many people’s opinion the most important […]

Apply Within

We’ve had some noisy conversations here recently on the subject of immigration. My own position has been that we should admit those, and only those, who will be assets rather than liabilities — and that we need to cultivate in ourselves the discernment to tell the difference. We want intelligent, motivated, creative, hard-working people who […]

No Rubbernecking, Please

I suppose this was bound to happen: two satellites have collided in Earth orbit. Somebody’s insurance is going to be going up.

A Darwin Schriftfest

It being the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth on the 12th of this month, this week’s Tuesday science supplement in the New York Times offered an engaging crop of Darwin-themed articles. Have a look here, here, here, here, here, and here. Related content from Sphere

The Cowardly Lion

Apparently the British government has now refused entry to the Dutch politician Geert Wilders. Wilders, who has made a name for himself with his outspoken criticism of Islam, and by his vociferous opposition to its increasing presence and influence in the dangerously multiculturalist West, has lived under police protection in Holland since the release of […]

Search Called Off

Kevin Kim mentions, in a post published this evening, his curiosity about what he refers to as “real-time searching”. If things had gone a little differently back in 2006, real-time search would be a lot farther along than it is: this is exactly what the start-up company I used to work for, PubSub Concepts, was […]

Ox Tale

Today was the annual Yee’s Hung Ga Lunar New Year parade, in which our dragon and lion-dance teams make their way along a circuitous, miles-long path that covers just about every block of New York’s Chinatown. It’s a long day of physical effort and deafening cacophony, and by the end we are all completely worn […]

Word Processors

I’ve just read an interesting item over at Bill Vallicella’s website, The Maverick Philosopher. It was a guest post (actually a “promoted” comment) by philosopher Peter Lupu, who has joined us over here on occasion as well. The post by Peter was about Objectivism; it was a fairly technical examination of the Objectivist position that […]

What You Mean “We”, Kemosabe?

More than a few states, facing the prospect of an increasingly activist federal government under the new Democratic administration, have passed measures in their local legislatures to assert their sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment. Here are some bills from Washington, New Hampshire, Arizona, Montana, Michigan, Missouri (this one has to do with resistance to Federal […]

The Penny Drops

In today’s Best of the Web newsletter, WSJ editorialist James Taranto pokes some fun at the New York Times: The editorial board of the New York Times has stumbled onto a possibly revolutionary economic idea. The paper is sounding a note of caution about Gov. David Paterson’s proposal to impose a tax on theater tickets: […]

Sorry, Charlie

February 12th being the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, the University of Chicago biologist Jerry Coyne has written a substantial essay on the status of science and religion in American culture 150 years after the publication of On The Origin Of Species, and on just how compatible the two really are. His […]

Pearls Before Swine

From Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal: Daniel Pearl’s father writes, seven years after his son’s brutal murder, on how far we haven’t come.

Aiming To Please

Readers have often mentioned that they wished our comment box had a ‘preview’ feature, so I went poking around in the WordPress Plugins Directory and found one. It is a ‘live-preview’ plugin, which means the formatted text is displayed in a box below the comment, and is updated as the user types. There are others […]

Flying High

Here’s another item sent our way by Jess Kaplan, who is himself a frequent traveler to Moscow: passengers about to embark on an Aeroflot flight mutinied when they saw that their pilot was obviously drunk. (Quite a contrast, of course, with our own Chesley Sullenberger, who soberly managed to put his plane in the drink.) […]

Hive Minds

We’ve all heard of spelling bees. Now it turns out they can count, too.

What Is ‘Chi’?

From our friend Jess Kaplan come links to two YouTube clips, both of which show two chi-gung practitioners — one a Tibetan giving a martial-arts demonstration, and the other a Javanese healer. What we see in each is quite extraordinary, and will certainly tax the credulity of skeptical Westerners. Related content from Sphere