Monthly Archives: June 2009

Have A Little Fling

Once again, it is approaching midnight, and I am still at the office, lashed to the wheel. This should not last much longer, I hope — perhaps things will be back to normal next week — but for now, serious bloggery remains entirely out of the question. Fortunately, you needn’t turn away empty handed, for […]

This Town Ain’t Big Enough

Today we offer a heaping helping of heresy, cooked up by some of our hardest-hitting, highest-profile heathens. First, as a little amuse-bouche, we have a recent editorial by the astrophysicist Lawrence Krauss, in which the author argues that, despite conciliatory efforts to get “militant” atheists to stop being such party-poopers, the fact is that religion […]

Resting Comfortably

Readers will have noticed that output has fallen off drastically here lately; the demands of the workplace have continued to press heavily upon me. There seems to be light at the end of the tunnel, however, and in fact I am actually spending this weekend doing things other than writing and debugging program code — […]

Les Choses Sont Contre Nous

We have all had the harrowing suspicion, rising at times almost to a dreadful certainty, that the inanimate objects of the world are arrayed against us with bloodless and implacable malice. We pop the window open on a fine spring morning and it falls back down, shattering the glass. We grab the only pencil at […]

I Only Have Eyes For You

French president Nicolas Sarkozy announced yesterday that the burqa — the head-to-toe garment worn by some Muslim women — is “not welcome” in France, and the French National Assembly is now preparing an inquiry into whether the enshrouding of women to shield them from the view of men other than their owners is so fundamentally […]

Everybody’s Got One

We’re talking about opinions, of course. Here are two takes on the situation in Iran: from Fouad Ajami, and from Pat Buchanan. And if you have a little more time, and would like to be better informed about elections in Iran generally, and about that nation’s political structure, read this. Related content from Sphere

Lies, Damned Lies, And Statistics

As the situation in Iran devolves further into violence, we note that two Ph.D. candidates at Columbia have done some clever statistical work on the official election results, and have concluded that they are almost certainly fake. Story here. Related content from Sphere

Schlong Of Solomon

We’ve been on the road for the past two days, and have just got home late on this Sunday evening. There’s been no time for keeping up with events, or for the brooding and rumination necessary for the germination of a serious post. So here’s another pungent item plucked from the ether by our reader […]

A Rough Go

I’ve been letting things go to hell around here the past few weeks — there’s been little more than the odd news item or random piece of Internet flotsam — and I do hope things will be getting back to normal soon. Unfortunately, not being a man of independent means, I depend for my solvency […]

Mind Over Matter

I am working late once again, and have as yet been unable to return to normal operations around here. So for tonight here’s a little item about physicsists and mysticism. Related content from Sphere

Who Knew?

In an important development that may have far-reaching consequences, recent reports appear to confirm the suspicion, long held by many, that most people are in fact massively ignorant about almost everything. See here, and here. Related content from Sphere

What Now?

With a hat tip, once again, to reader JK, here’s a thoughful item by Leslie Gelb on how the situation in Iran may evolve.

A Dull Boy

Apologies to all who have commented or emailed over the past few days: I am still spending nearly every waking hour either at work or aboard one of Gotham’s luxurious subway cars, and probably will be doing so through the first half of this week at least. There are a great many important and interesting […]

There Is A Tide

It is heartening to see the momentum changing, for the moment at least, in the Muslim world. The excesses of the Taliban have provoked a vigorous response, it seems, in northwestern Pakistan, and there are reports that an al-Qaeda exodus to Yemen and Somalia may be beginning – which may in many way be more […]

Up The River

With conservatism back on its heels all over America, loyalty to tradition seems everywhere to be a waning virtue. Not so in New York State politics, where the stewards of the commonweal are every bit as venal and corrupt as they have been since before the Revolution, as we see in this heartwarming item from […]

Hey, Just Kidding Around

With an impending deadline to meet, I shall remain fettered to my oar till the wee hours for the rest of the week at least. While I am surely grateful, during this disruptive economic paroxysm, to have the opportunity to spend a healthful fifteen hours a day sitting in a cubicle writing code so as […]

Liszt With A Twist

I’m working very late tonight (and for the rest of the week), and have no time for brooding and scribbling — so for this evening, I’m afraid all I have to offer is froth and diversion. Here, then, are the great Harpo Marx, and his namesake, collaborating on a familiar theme. Related content from Sphere

Sheep Dip?

Here’s an odd little video clip, showing something or other having a swim in Lake Champlain.

A Dangerous Game

North Korea, which is by some accounts facing catastrophic internal crises as Kim Jong-Il attempts to engineer the transfer of absolute power to his youngest son, has pressed its policy of brinkmanship even further by sentencing two US reporters to 12 years in a labor camp for an alleged border violation. Everyone is, as might […]

E Unum Pluribus

The Islamic mystic al-Kharraz tells us: “Only God has the right to say ‘I’.” This necessary insight has nothing to do with Islam, or even God.

Tower Of Babel

In grappling with persistent questions regarding key aspects of human existence and the natural world — intentionality, free will, morality, and so on — it is very easy to become entangled in terminological difficulties. Here’s a particularly contentious example. Related content from Sphere

As You Like It

From E.A. Robinson, 1931: “If a man is a materialist, or a mechanist, or whatever he likes to call himself, I can see for him no escape from belief in a futilty so prolonged and complicated and diabolical and preposterous as to be worse than absurd: and, as I do not know that such a […]

That’s Life

Many years ago, the historian, philosopher, and author Will Durant asked an assortment of his eminent contemporaries for their opinon of the meaning of life, and gathered the responses into a book, now rather obscure. It happens that I own a first-edition copy, and the other day I took it down from the shelf. The […]


Mulla Nasrudin once undertook to take nine donkeys for delivery to a local farmer. The man who entrusted them to him counted them, one by one, so that Nasrudin could be sure that there really were nine. On the road his attention was distracted by something by the wayside. Nasrudin, sitting astride one of the […]

The Flaming Sword

Religious fanatics have been spreading the love again. First we had Sunday’s murder of Dr. George Tiller by a paranoid Christian extremist — in the sanctuary of a Christian church, no less — and then, Monday morning, a lethal assault on an Army recruiting station by a Muslim zealot. The latter item, in particular, bears […]

The Twain Have Yet To Meet

As has been the case for over thirteen centuries, East and West are still glowering darkly at one another across a deep cultural divide. One hopes always for harmony and rapprochement — themes that Mr. Obama will, I am sure, focus on in his upcoming speech from Cairo — and perhaps, in this small and […]


So distracted am I, and so out of touch with the world of music just at the moment, that I didn’t know it until I read it in today’s Times: the incomparable Manny’s, midtown Manhattan’s Mecca of musical merchandise, has closed its doors. This lavish emporium, set in “Music Row” on West 48th Street amongst […]