Monthly Archives: January 2010

Recall Their Mighty Deeds!

I’m slowly recovering from whatever it was I had — some sort of virus, I suppose, that triggered a general shutdown of major bodily and cognitive subsystems. Between that and a slip in the snow Thursday morning that caused fresh and debilitating damage to a recent orthopaedic injury, I have spent most of the past […]

Service Notice

I’m rather under the weather at the moment. Back in a day or two.


Having absorbed much of the commentary on President Obama’s speech last night, I have nothing to add here that hasn’t been said already by all of the usual bloggers and pundits. I will second a few thoughts though. First, I thought the president seemed oddly unfazed by recent events. He certainly wasn’t ill at ease; […]

Howard Zinn, 1922-2010

We note that the left-wing polemicist Howard Zinn has died, of a heart attack, at the age of 87. Professor Zinn, in whose eyes the United States of America was clearly the focus of evil in the modern world, was a familiar sight in my adopted hometown of Wellfleet, Massachusetts, where he was lionized by […]


It is remarkable how well natural systems can find minimal solutions to mathematical problems. Years ago I was shown, in a simple demonstration, an impressive example. The problem was this: given several cities on a map, how can one lay out a minimal network of roads connecting them all? To give a simple example, if […]

Could Be Worse

As depressingly as our once-virile American culture may be fettered and enfeebled by political correctness these days, over in Britain things are far, far worse. Below the fold we have an illustrative comparison, courtesy of a Mr. D. Duff, from across the pond. Related content from Sphere

This Just In: Sky Still Falling

Last week NASA announced that the decade just ended was the warmest on record. I was a little surprised by that, because everything I’d been reading — including the Climategate material — seemed to indicate otherwise; indeed the inconvenient lack of warming this decade was starting to turn into a real marketing headache for the […]

The Flaming Sword

It’s been a busy Saturday, and what time I’ve had for writing today I have spent commenting here and elsewhere, rather than on the gestation of new posts. So, it being late, and with my computer on the fritz (a new one is on the way), I’ll just leave you with this amusing recent story […]


It is of course ungentlemanly to gloat, but were I that sort of person, today’s doings on Capitol Hill would have provided a rare opportunity. The Democrats today are routed, their fearsome assault repulsed, their Utopian schemes undone. Their mighty socialist war-machine lies in splinters on the battlefield. Their armies broken and scattered, they keen […]

Maxwell’s Demon

This is a story that keeps popping up: the potential health hazards of the electromagnetic fields our appliances and infrastructure bathe us in. A reader sent along a good example today, which you can read for yourself here; if the danger described in this article is real it is a worrisome matter indeed. The problem […]

The Clear Air

Sometimes, from the ashes of a liberal, a realist — dare I say a conservative — is born. It happened to me years ago, and it is happening across America right now. It gives hope. To see the process in action, read this fine post by my friend Danny Fisher. Related content from Sphere

Liberty Stands In The Dock

In Holland tomorrow, the trial of Geert Wilders begins. The world will be watching to see whether Europe is still to be a place where free people can speak out in defense of their besieged homeland and culture, or whether the battle may indeed already be lost. The International Free Press Society has organized a […]

Power To The People!

In a lip-smackingly delicious reversal for the Democrats’ rampaging statist juggernaut, conservative upstart Scott Brown has prevailed in Massachusetts, snatching away a glittering prize: a Senate seat that had been a liberal fiefdom for 46 years. Columnist Michael Graham, writing in the Boston Herald, said that the disastrously incompetent campaign run by heir apparent Martha […]

Water, Water, Everywhere, And Quite A Few Drops To Drink

In our earlier post about the Navy’s role in Haiti we quoted a “guesstimate”, from our naval source, that the Carl Vinson would be able to desalinate about 500,000 gallons of fresh water a day. That wasn’t too far off, though the actual number is a little less. Here’s an article with the details. Related […]

The Red Votes Are Coming!

CNN’s Gloria Borger offers a pithy and accurate assessment of what’s going on today in Massachusetts, where a victory by the conservative candidate Scott Brown seems, encouragingly, to be the likely outcome. Here. Related content from Sphere

A Poser

Over at normblog today, Norman Geras asks a vexatious question: Not exactly a new normblog poll… … but I would really like to hear from you on how you would react to being offered the following choice. You are going to some distant and lonely and low-tech place where you will have to spend the […]

The U.S. Navy And The Haitian Relief Effort

The catastrophe in Haiti has evoked an enormous worldwide response. The biggest role so far has been played by the United States Navy, which was quick to dispatch various important resources. For the past few days a Navy “resource” of my own has been sending me informative emails and links describing and analyzing this mission. […]

Sausage and Legislation

In an electrifying news item, we learn that Dutch scientists have announced a breakthrough that should remove any lingering Congressional resistance to US funding for stem-cell research. Here.

Rust Never Sleeps

I’m in rather a bit of discomfort sitting at the computer tonight, having pulled, with a loud “pop”, something in my after rigging while teaching class earlier this evening. So I’ll leave you for now with an advisory item that’s been making the rounds about online security. Here. Related content from Sphere

Lisbon, 1755

Like all of you, I have been watching with horror the reports from Port-au-Prince. To this sorrowful place, which has for centuries known little but tyranny, misery, and despair, has now come, in a fell and sudden stroke, suffering and death on a scale beyond all imagining. Bodies are stacked in the streets — where […]

Everything Is Seemingly Spinning Out Of Control

Readers may recall a recent event that has come to be known as the Norway Spiral Anomaly. The cause, briefly mysterious, was soon revealed to have been a malfunctioning Russian missile that, as it tumbled through the sky, ejected exhaust in a helical pattern that was backlit by the sun. It was an impressive display. […]

Shoot Me Now

Forgive me for two peeve-posts in the same evening, but I think I speak for all of us when I say that I have heard quite enough about Harry Reid and his “inartful” remarks about the former Senator Obama’s prospects for the Presidency. I am certainly no fan of Mr. Reid’s, but this is ridiculous: […]

Tweet Spot

I’ve lived in Park Slope, Brooklyn, since 1982. It’s one of New York’s prettiest residential neighborhoods, and generally has a lot going for it: Prospect Park, great restaurants, good schools, beautiful Victorian architecture, a wonderful library, convenient subways, concerts at the Bandshell, and so on. It’s been a great place to raise two kids, and […]

Please Make It Stop

I don’t want to seem peevish, but will somebody please tell me when speaking “about” a topic became speaking “to” it? Does this preening, pompous little affectation bother any of the rest of you as much as it does me? Related content from Sphere


I am having terrible troubles with my computer (an HP dvr9000 series laptop), and it will need to be replaced. It crashes often — I can now expect to get only ten or fifteen minutes at a time out of it — and it it takes several attempts to get it to restart. So cranky […]

This Means War, Kind Of

President Obama made a speech yesterday on the subject of Islamic jihad. In it he sought to reassure an increasingly angry and jittery nation that his administration might in fact be capable, now that it is making a diligent and focused effort, of achieving at least minimal competence regarding national security. The speech, though full […]

The Good Progressive

In a post today at his website, Lawrence Auster brings to our attention a formidably gifted and hitherto-undiscovered satiric talent, a modern day Laszlo Toth: one Doug Van Gorder, from Quincy, Mass. At least, we think he’s a satiric talent. Anyway, he’s got people talking. Here. Related content from Sphere

It’ll Have To Do

Not being a man of independent means, I’ve been selling off my dwindling store of days just to earn a crust. As it happens I sold off almost all of this one, and so have none of it left for writing. That means it’s time to add another weightless diversion to our “shameless filler” category. […]

Hard Times, But Fewer Crimes

Crime rates are down sharply here in New York, and in other big cities as well. According to conventional “root-causes” wisdom, the hard economic times we’ve had for the past year should have driven crime up, but instead it has fallen off dramatically, and is now at record-low levels. What’s going on? The Manhattan Institute’s […]

With Friends Like These, Who Needs Yemenis?

Yemen is everywhere in the news these days. All the players in the region have now focused their attention on this broiling and desiccated snake-pit: Iran, the Saudis, al-Qaeda, and of course the USA. Enmities ancient and modern, religious and political, are all in play, and a tangled web of shifting alliances makes it awfully […]

Birds Of A Feather

One of our stronger cognitive intuitions is to assume, in the presence of organized systems, that there is some central, organizing agency at work. In recent decades, however, it has become apparent that extraordinarily sophisticated group-level behavior can arise as a result of distributed local decision-making, using very simple rules. Among the best examples of […]

Not So Fast

One of the more startling provisions of the health-care bill making its way through Congress is its empowerment of the federal government to compel all US citizens to purchase health insurance. From the moment I first heard about this unprecedented arrogation of power I’ve wondered just how, on any reading of the Constitution, the legislators […]

Search Me

A very happy New Year to you all! Thank you as always for dropping by to read and comment. Every year about this time I look back at the thousands and thousands of keyphrases that have brought visitors here from Google and other search engines. There are usually quite a few spectacular oddities (though for […]