Monthly Archives: April 2010


Time for more Shameless Filler. First: reader JK sends us this sample of high culture, American Style. (Try not to be too depressed by the remark right at the very end.) Second: an annoyingly persuasive optical illusion. Third: why we seriously need to rethink Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Finally, I hear you grumble: why does […]


Hofstadter’s Law: “It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.”

Master Class

When I was a young man I played the drums, and was pretty sure that one day I would be a Great Big Rock Star. To advance this project, I went looking for a job at a New York City recording studio, on the theory that I’d then be right in the thick of things, […]

Stuff Guys Do

I’m old enough to remember the Apollo 11 mission, the one that put men on the moon for the first time ever. It was a pretty big deal. (We won’t be doing that again anytime soon, thanks to You-Know-Who.) Now, with a hat-tip to my boy Nick, here’s the fateful launch as you’ve never seen […]

Winner’s Circle

In every generation, some of us have children. Others, for various reasons, don’t. (Historically, most women do, and most men don’t.) In good times, it is relatively easy to bring offspring to adulthood, and populations swell. In hard times it can be very difficult indeed, and only a few manage. When times are bad enough, […]

Close Up Those Barren Leaves

More from Eric Hoffer: According to Bergson “the intellect is characterized by an inability to comprehend life.” Kant was certain that “the origin of the cosmos will be explained sooner than the mechanism of a plant or caterpillar.” How outlandish then is the belief that the intellect can fathom men’s soul. How can science unravel […]

Speed And Power

Reader JK calls our attention (we’re taking a time-out in Wellfleet this weekend, and not reading the news) to an article in the Times about a new weapons system in the DOD pipeline: Called Prompt Global Strike, the new weapon is designed to carry out tasks like picking off Osama bin Laden in a cave, […]

What Do Women Want?

Our friend Dennis Mangan is a rising star in the conservative blogosphere, and in addition to his continuing work at Mangan’s he has begun contributing articles to the new conservative website Alternative Right. His latest is about the biological causes of the male-female “wage gap”. Read it here. Related content from Sphere


Here’s Eric Hoffer again, writing in 1974: The agitation about the population explosion is persuading many talented and enterprising Americans to have few children. The resulting change in the composition of the population will probably be not unlike that produced by war, which kills the strong and venturesome and increases the proportion of those least […]

Why Science Is Cool


Europe: Doomed.

Unbelievable. Hat tip to Lawrence Auster.


From a Times article about the possible causes of the Polish air disaster: [A Russian] official said that the pilot was aware “well in advance” that he was headed to an airfield without a modern aerial navigation system. One possibility, he said, was that the pilot was not aware that the plane, a TU-154, loses […]

Fire and Ice

With thanks to my friend Yaniv Sarig, here are some fantastic photos of Eyjafjallajokull.

That Word Again

Of all the conceptual tar-pits into which discussions of Darwinian naturalism often sink, none smothers its victims so prolifically as the concept of “design”. We reserve it jealously for the foresightedly purposeful efforts of conscious agents, which leaves us fumfering about for a word to describe the beautiful machinery of living things, and the powerful […]

Sluice Box

Last week my old friend Jess friend sent me, as a birthday gift, a book by Eric Hoffer. I’d known about Mr. Hoffer for years, but had never read him. I wish I had done so sooner. Eric Hoffer, for those of you who don’t know of him, was a most unusual autodidact. Born in […]

Ash Thursday

Is it just me, or does the Earth’s crust seem awfully fidgety these days? There have been earthquakes all over the place lately, it seems, and now air travel throughout Europe has been paralyzed by ashfall from Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano. It might be getting worse. Apparently, as bad as the current eruption is, the real […]

It’s All In Your Head

In Tuesday’s post about the puzzle of consciousness (I was off duty last night, celebrating my 54th at an Argentine steakhouse on the Lower East Side), I mentioned having seen an item in the paper that day that I thought seemed timely. It was a piece in the Times about growing interest in the use […]

Two Views Of A Secret

A correspondent (and occasional commenter) and I have been exchanging emails over the past few days about the mystery of consciousness — a topic that used to occupy a fair amount of space around here, but which has been bumped off the page lately by political rants and screeds. My friend and I make fundamentally […]

The American Jizya

Some time ago, while the lovely Nina and I were visting our daughter at college in Ann Arbor, we went to a local comedy club. The featured act was a very funny fellow by the name of D.C. Malone, who told us, after he was intoduced, that he had just quit drinking a few weeks […]

The Right To Bare Arms

Today’s mail-bag held a potpourri of postworthy tidbits. Here they are. First, another step for the U.K. along the path to dhimmitude. It appears that female Muslim hospital staff will be exempt from the requirement to keep forearms bare and scrubbed to reduce the transmission of pathogens. In this latest capitulation, we see once again […]


Here I am again, toiling away in the office on a Friday night, just to earn a crust. I suppose I shouldn’t complain, though; for all I know I could soon be replaced by one of these. Related content from Sphere

Party Animal

I’m still feeling a bit blogged-out this week, and tonight, after a long day of working and teaching, I haven’t anything of substance to write about. I’ll just leave you, then, with an uplifting little news item about the discovery of a new species in the Philippines. (It is most unusual in this day and […]

The Cruelest Month

Spring is upon us with startling suddenness this year; it will be, they tell us, 88° tomorrow. All over the city the daffodils and Callery pears are in bloom, and the pretty girls have shed their scarves and boots for skirts and sandals. For the first time I think Eliot may have been right about […]

Time Out

Sojourning in Wellfleet for a few days. Back in a bit. Happy Easter, Passover, etc. to all.

Won’t Get Fooled Again

Well, it’s been kind of an eventful morning. My response to a form letter from President Obama’s political strategist David Plouffe has led to a truly mind-expanding back-and-forth exchange, and, frankly, I guess I have to say the scales have fallen from my eyes. I’ve been a pretty harsh critic of the whole Democratic political […]