Monthly Archives: July 2010

Lily Renée

A few years ago I wrote a brief item about my mother-in-law, Lily, who is really rather an extraordinary woman. There is now an article about her in Newsweek. Here.

Music Of The Spheres

Through a process unimaginatively named “sonification”, engineers at CERN have converted the vibrations of the long-sought Higgs boson into audio. It’s not bad, actually; too bad Richard Wright isn’t around to hear it. Here.

Sounds About Right

According to a recent release from Gallup: PRINCETON, NJ — Gallup’s 2010 Confidence in Institutions poll finds Congress ranking dead last out of the 16 institutions rated this year. Eleven percent of Americans say they have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in Congress, down from 17% in 2009 and a percentage […]

The Political Climate

Paul Krugman has been awfully lathered up lately. His fulminating resentment of conservatives for causing all the world’s ills (and worse, for disregarding his Olympian sagacity) has gotten downright pyretic, and in his twice-weekly tirades he seems — due, no doubt, to the July heat — increasingly indifferent to the need to clothe his recriminations […]

That A-10 Again

I’ve written before about the A-10 Thunderbolt (AKA “Warthog), the nastiest aircraft ever built. Sure, others may fly higher, or faster, or do a lot of high-tech parlor tricks — but when it comes to sheer pugnaciousness, this snarling airborne Rottweiler is in a class by itself. Here’s another look.

What A Piece Of Work Is Mann

Online journalist and all-around gadfly Scott Ott (a Nittany Lion himself) focused his attention recently upon Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann, of “hockey stick” fame. His account begins: Shortly after climate scientist Michael “Hockey Stick” Mann got word that a panel of his Penn State colleagues had cleared him of misconduct in the so-called […]

Brer Fox, He Lay Low

The United States recently announced a “thaw” in relations with Pakistan, with the US agreeing to burn $500 million to provide the needed warmth. Meanwhile, most observers have for some time now seen quite plainly that Pakistan has been playing a double game, with the all-powerful ISI taking US assistance with one hand and stroking […]

The Topography Of Crime

Here’s a nice example of the graphical representation of quantitative data, from Adobe Flex guru Michael McClune. It’s a 3-D map of the distribution of various types of crime in San Francisco.

Truth Diode

An opinion piece by Nicholas Kristof in today’s Times looks at whether, as some have suggested, the modern workplace is better suited to women than men. Mr. Kristof quotes from a “provocative” article: With women making far-reaching gains, there’s a larger question. Are women simply better-suited than men to today’s jobs? The Atlantic raised this […]

You OK In There, Wilma?

How they made the bed rock in Bedrock.

Sine Of The Times

The latest tempest in the media teapot appears to be something called “i-dosing“, in which hellbound teens listen to brain-addling audio signals to get high. From what I have learned so far, it appears that the audio plays various tricks with what we audio weenies call “binaural beats”, a pulsating perceptual phenomenon that occurs when […]

Gets My Irish Up

On the corner of the block where I live, in the ultra-blue neighborhood of Park Slope, Brooklyn, there is an upscale little diner, right beside a busy subway entrance. Outside there stands a little blackboard. On one side of the blackboard the staff lists the daily specials, and on the other there is usually a […]

A Grim Prognosis

The influential (and generally non-partisan) think-tank The Cato Institute has published an in-depth assessment of the recent health-care bill. It’s a hefty read, and not at all encouraging. Here.

Golden Dragon Shows Its Claws

While the USA backs away from further production of the F-22 Raptor, deciding instead to rely on the inferior F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, Russia, as we noted here, is aggressively looking forward, deploying the impressive Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA. So what about China? They aren’t sitting still either. The balance is changing. Learn more here.

Do True Scotsmen Have Free Will?

Here’s a clarifying passage from Daniel Dennett on the idea that the findings of neuroscience prove that “free will” is a fiction: Recall the myth of Cupid, who flutters about on his cherubic wings making people fall in love by shooting them with his little bow and arrow. This is such a lame cartoonists’ convention […]

Why Be A Religious Moderate?

Over at Maverick Philosopher, Bill Vallicella has written a fine post in response to a query from a reader about religious zealotry. The reader’s argument was: Given that, as most religions claim — 1) There is an afterlife of infinite duration; 2) Those who live in strict accordance with the religion’s requirements and prohibitions will […]

Governing The Most

On September 6th, 1824, at Monticello, the eighty-one-year-old Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter to one William Ludlow (my emphasis): …I have observed this march of civilization advancing from the sea coast, passing over us like a cloud of light, increasing our knowledge and improving our condition, insomuch as that we are at this time […]

Raw Comedy

In the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate, there’s an article (linked to in today’s Best of the Web) about what Peter, Paul, and Mary used to eat on the road. It contained this fishy little morsel from from Noel (Paul) Stookey (emphasis mine): “Until the ’80s, there was usually the (standard) deli tray backstage,” said Stookey, calling […]


The bottom having fallen out of the recording business, for the past ten years or so I’ve been writing software to earn my daily crust. You probably know that programmers spend a good deal of time “debugging” the software they write (I’ve often felt inclined to refer to the remainder of what we do as […]

He Will Be Missed

Yogi Berra, on the death of George Steinbrenner: “George and I had our differences, but who didn’t?”

Куда́ ни кинь, всю́ду клин

According to a new study, Russians dwell on gloomy thoughts more than Americans, but are less likely to let it all get to them. We read: Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy portrayed Russians as a brooding, complicated people, and ethnographers have confirmed that Russians tend to focus on dark feelings and memories more than Westerners do. But […]

There. Doesn’t That Feel Better?

As you all know by now, NASA’s mission has been redefined by the Obama administration. The conquest of space having lost its luster, the agency’s new primary objective, as explained by director Charles Bolden, is to make the Muslim world “feel good about their historic contribution to science … and math and engineering.” Our investigative-reporting […]

Stirrings In The Dar-al-Harb?

In a heartening development, the lower house of France’s parliament has voted 335 to 1 to ban the burqa. The measure, which is overwhelmingly supported by the French people, will go to the Senat in September. Reaction was swift, and predictable. “A complete ban on the covering of the face would violate the rights to […]

Our New Trick

Reader JK calls our attention to a post over at InfoDiss: an animated rendering of nuclear detonations around the world from 1945 to 1998. It’s 14 minutes long, and very simply done, but I couldn’t pull away. Here.

Just You Try It

Writing in the Washington Post, one Stan Cox, who presumably grew up in the jungles of New Guinea, suggests that we abolish the air conditioner, an artifact of human ingenuity that I consider to be roughly on a par with the invention of the wheel, or the taming of fire. Mr. Cox (rhymes with “pox”) […]

A Sorry Excuse

Suppose you were to come round a street corner and almost bump into a person going the other way. Odds are, nowadays, that one or both of you will say “sorry!”. This is new. Once upon a time we would have said “excuse me.” What changed? I think it must be that the primary sense […]

Bob Sheppard, 1910-2010

We note with sadness the death, at 99, of longtime Yankee announcer Bob Sheppard, and of the era he helped to define. From his New York Times obituary: From the last days of DiMaggio through the primes of Mantle, Berra, Jackson and Jeter, Sheppard’s precise, resonant, even Olympian elocution — he was sometimes called the […]

The Way We Were

Readers of these pages will know by now that America, along with Western civilization generally, is most likely headed straight down the toilet. But it wasn’t always so. We’ve been focusing so relentlessly here of late on our accelerating collapse that I thought it might be nice to take a look back at a happier […]

Too Harsh?

Living as we do in a world of chaos, crime and corruption, we should all thank Heaven for that citadel of Justice, that beacon of moral clarity, the United Nations — and for the courage and forthrightness with which it deals swift and righteous judgment to the world’s vilest blackguards, reprobates, and scoundrels. Just today, […]

Squeeze That Lemon

Within the IRS is an agency called the Taxpayer Advocate Service. Here’s what it is, according to the website: The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is an independent organization within the IRS whose employees assist taxpayers who are experiencing economic harm, who are seeking help in resolving tax problems that have not been resolved through […]

Call Your Bookie

According to a graph-theory analysis of the two teams’ passing strategies, Spain will defeat Holland in the World Cup final. Here.


An unconfirmable truth: the unexamined life is not worth living.

Knight Game

With all the fuss lately about LeBron whatsizname (and some soccer match that has apparently been taking place, I believe, in Africa), you may, like me, have been worrying that one of our most venerable sporting traditions was dying of popular neglect. Well, worry no more.

Class Warfare

As the Obama administration revs up its lawsuit against Arizona, we learn that meanwhile, across the porous border, schools are now teaching children to dodge bullets. Story here.

Bring It

The DOJ has now uncorked its long-threatened lawsuit against Arizona for the latter’s audacity in attempting to enforce Federal law to stem the disastrous tide of undocumented Democrats streaming into the state from across the border. Blogger Ann Althouse examines the suit’s premises here. Her commenter “Mesquito” crisply summed up the seething frustration of a […]

Thrills, Chills, Spills

Here’s a timely collector’s item, if you can find one. (Hat-tip to my colleague Yaniv Sarig.)

Getting Hot In Here

103° today. It’s hard to think original thoughts while undergoing massive organ failure, so for tonight I will just add my own to the chorus of voices yelping in indignation over the interview that NASA director Charles Bolden gave to al-Jazeera. Here’s what he said (starting at about 1:11): “Before I became the NASA administrator, […]


We’re back in Gotham, where, as it does every July (though somewhat tardily last year), the Hell-mouth has opened once again. It will be about 100° tomorrow, with suffocating, hope-crushing humidity. As always, I have begun to panic, to despair, to long to sleep at last in the cold, cold ground. That said, it was […]

Time Out

We’re sequestered in Wellfleet, taking a breather for the holiday weekend. Things will probably be quiet in this space till sometime early next week, though you never know. As usual — thanks as always for visiting, and feel free to give our “View a Random Post” link a try.