Monthly Archives: July 2009

Political Science

Dennis Mangan calls our attention to an article in Newsweek, by Sharon Begley, that takes aim at the burgeoning science of evolutionary psychology. Begley effectively pronounces the field dead, which will certainly be news to its practitioners. Anthropologist Dan Sperber writes that the evo-psych community knew this broadside was coming, and that its publication in […]

A Salty Dogfight

According to an item over at CNN, former Procol Harum keyboardist Matthew Fisher has won a lawsuit seeking a portion of the royalties for the band’s classic tune “A Whiter Shade of Pale”. This certainly seems fair, though I wasn’t present as the song was being written: Fisher’s plangent organ-playing is the soul of the […]

Time Is Money

David Pogue, the personal-technology columnist for the New York Times is hopping mad. Why? It’s those annoying little messages you have to listen to before you can leave voice-mail for a cell-phone user. You know: “At the tone, please record your message. When you have finished recording, you may hang up, or press 1 for […]

Inconvenient, If True

In the news lately has been a New Zealand climatologist who has been looking askance at received opinions regarding anthropogenic global warming. His name is Chris de Freitas, and he is a member of the faculty of the University of Auckland. I recently ran across an article of his, in which I read the following: […]

Didn’t Quite Catch The Name

Here’s an Indian tribe that, for some odd reason, I have the feeling I ought to do a post about. Can’t really say why, though.

Healthcare Upon Stilts

Today we direct you to an excellent post by Bill Vallicella about the putative “right” to health care. A little while back I mentioned that left-leaning governments tend always toward acting in loco parentis; Bill’s post offers the Democratic health-care initiative as an illustrative example. Bill makes the important point — seldom acknowledged — that […]

Ummm, OK…

This just heard over the P.A. from our office-building’s fire superintendent, after a series of tests of the alarm system: “Please disregard any further instructions.”

Two Masters

Recently President Obama, in what he must have known would be a controversial choice, selected the geneticist Francis Collins to be the next director of the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Collins is an eminent scientist, and a capable administrator — indeed, his professional qualifications for the post are unimpeachable — but he has also […]

No End In Sight

Here’s an Escheresque curiosity from the Web. I’m sure there is some simple trick to creating things like this, but I have no idea what it is.

Case Closed

A few days ago we remarked on a CNN item about the differences between men and women. Might some of these differences be innate (as I think is almost certainly the case), or are they all just the result of cultural conditioning? This has has been an enormously contentious issue of late, so it would […]

World Wide Website

It’s been a busy day of roistering at the wedding of a friend, and the little grey cells are in no shape to get behind the keyboard. So for tonight, all I can offer is a diverting little link, sent our way by reader JK. Here. Related content from Sphere

Timing Is Everything

I don’t buy a lot of gadgets, but featured in today’s Personal Tech newsletter from the Times is a review of one that I might just have to spring for. It’s an alarm clock — a watch, actually — that monitors your movements to determine where you are in your sleep cycle. You give it […]

Young ‘Un

Tonight we have an item from a few days ago that offers, perhaps, a little insight into Kim Jong-il’s heir apparent, the youngest of his three sons. Apparently the boy may have been educated, under an assumed name, at a Swiss school a few years back. It seems he really likes basketball. Story here. Related […]


At CNN today is a pop-science puff piece that breezily summarizes some of the natural underpinnings of what we all know to be true: men and women are different. The article touches, blithely and matter-of-factly, on differences in body chemistry, brain anatomy, emotions, and cognition. You’ll certainly get no argument from me; I’ve always thought […]

Gunwales Awash

I’ve linked to a few essays by Pat Buchanan recently, and have another for you today. There is much that I disagree with Mr. Buchanan about, both culturally and politically — his paleoconservative isolationism comes to mind, as well as his doctrinaire opposition to evolutionary theory, the scientific bedrock of modern biology (see, for example, […]

No Arrows, But A Sling

If there are a thousand shocks that flesh is heir to, I must be nearing my quota. After working at the office until 1 a.m. yesterday, I arose this morning with a large project before me, involving the movement of many of our largest pieces of furniture and the assembly and installation of an enormous […]

In Loco Parentis

In 1972, when I was 16, I took a drive across America with my good friend Tom “Toby” Sherwood (peace be upon him). Toby was the older brother of Evelyn, a girl I had been orbiting, and although he was a few years older — at 21, he had just emerged from Harvard with a […]

No Comment

For years now I’ve been reading, and occasionally commenting, over at Bill Vallicella’s website, The Maverick Philosopher. Bill’s a grumpy old cuss, and an unrepentant dualist, but he’s the real deal, and an excellent writer to boot. A philosophical amateur and autodidact like myself can learn a lot there (which I certainly have). Bill’s blog […]

Hot Off The Press

An engaging item in today’s Physorg Newsletter reported on a recent study, published in Nature Geoscience, that examined the Earth’s carbon chemistry during a period known as the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum, or PETM. During this torrid interval, which took place about 55 million years ago, the Earth’s average temperature shot up by 7° C. over […]


Readers will, perhaps, recall that I detest hot weather. I am not designed for it: I have a large stocky frame built on a Scottish genome, and in the ordinary course of my routine metabolic business I generate far more heat of my own than I can easily discard. In the winter, when everyone is […]

O Brave New World

There’s an item in the news today about “neurosecurity”: the need to protect “neural devices” — computerized electronic machinery designed to interact directly with the human brain — from unauthorized manipulation. The creation of technology to provide direct interfaces betweens computers and brains is a rapidly evolving field, but the effort so far has concentrated, […]

Salisbury On The Hudson

If you are in New York City today, you can take in a twice-yearly astronomical phenomenon: Manhattanhenge. Learn more here.

Michael Yon: Notes From The Philippines

When you have a lot of links on your blogroll, it’s hard to keep up with them all. One of the links on our sidebar is the website of military correspondent Michael Yon, who provides excellent independent coverage from the world’s strife-torn regions, some of them extremely dangerous and remote. Reader JK reminded us to […]

Out Of Many, What?

The history of the world is essentially a long, dolorous tale of ethnic and religious animosity and violence. Little has changed in the modern era; president Hu Jintao of China has just left the G-8 summit to address a rising tide of ethnic slaughter in Xinjiang. Now Pat Buchanan reminds us, in a cautionary essay, […]

Just The Facts

From a “news” item at CNN regarding the recent death of a noted pop star: His was a “six life path,” [Los Angeles psychic Glynis Jants] said, meaning he was magnetic and drew people to him. That, coupled with the fact that he was born on a two day made him irresistible, she said. “If […]

The Burnt Fool’s Bandaged Finger

We see in today’s news that Pakistan has announced that it is in contact with the fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, and would like to arrange negotiations between Omar and the US. Have we learned nothing? What possible value could such negotiations offer? What conceivable compromise could there be between the Taliban and a […]

The Dark Side

I have always, since the earliest days of boyhood, been a nocturnal sort. If I were free to set my own schedule (which I hope, inshallah, someday to be), I would retire sometime between two and three in the morning, and rise at about eleven — or, if it’s been a busy day, perhaps noon. […]

Freedom, Beyond Dignity

I always enjoy David Brooks’s column in the Times. He has an impeccable conservative pedigree, but never seems to take sides on any issue out of sheer partisanship, and even when he has strong opinions (with which I do not necessarily agree), he is unfailingly civil, and never shrill. Best of all, he writes well. […]

This And That

As I had hoped, things have finally settled down, and the lovely Nina and I have withdrawn to the Outer Cape for a brief but restorative interval of dietary indiscretion (on my own part at least), healthful physical activity, and diminished reponsibility. As always, there is much of interest going on in the world beyond […]

Low Life

Here’s something curious. I have no idea if this video — allegedly taken from a camera being snaked through a sewer line in North Carolina — is real or fake, or, if real, whther it depicts something already well-known or utterly strange. What the hell are these things? They look like mighty good eatin’. Related […]

The Sweet By And By

It is morning again, and I am back at my desk (technically speaking, it was also morning when I left). Although it has been heavy slogging these past six weeks or so, with many long nights of darkness both inner and outer, today there grows within me a slender reed of hope, a delicate wisp […]