Monthly Archives: January 2011

Obamacare Ruled Unconstitutional

Federal judge Roger Vinson, of the Northern District of Florida. has ruled that the entire “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”, a.k.a. Obamacare, is unconstitutional. I’ve only just had a quick look at the ruling, but it appears that the reasoning goes like this: The individual mandate — the part of the law that compels […]


I’ve just been told that Pakistan has suddenly shut off electronic communications. That would not be a good sign, especially in light of this. For confirmation, so far all I’ve found is this item, which suggests that the issue is more specific — though I’d be inclined to think that’s just smoke. Oh, and there’s […]

Start Worrying: Details To Follow

Over the transom comes a link to an analysis of the Egyptian situation by foreign-policy analyst Barry Rubin. Some salient excerpts: There is no good policy for the United States regarding the uprising in Egypt. …There is no organized moderate group in Egypt. Even the most important past such organization, the Kifaya movement, has already […]

Black Gold

Here’s something I wonder about: what is this mayhem in the Middle East going to do to the world’s economic markets? In particular, if trouble breaks out between Israel and Iran over Israel’s tightening encirclement, and the Strait of Hormuz — through which a very significant portion of the world’s seaborne oil must pass — […]


For some reason I had comments disabled on today’s Egypt post. They’re on again now, if anyone has anything to add.

Fire And Ice

Good stuff at today: video of gigantic eruptions on opposite sides of the Sun, and a startling photo of a rare atmospheric phenomenon. Go have a look.

Egypt: Going, Going…

The pot is aboil all over the Mideast and the Maghreb; today the world’s attention is focused on Egypt, where the long reign of Hosni Mubarak seems to be coming to an end. (Mubarak’s son, his heir apparent, has apparently already fled.) The indispensable NightWatch offers a crisp analysis of why events like these can […]

Sure, What The Hell, Here Ya Go

Multiple sources (here’s one) report that the government in Iraq is moving forward with a deal to buy 18 F-16 fighter jets from the US. What’s not being mentioned (except, as far as I can tell, by the anonymous author of Nightwatch), is that given the extent of Iran’s influence on the al-Maliki government, we […]

Suddenly, It All Adds Up

Here’s another item from today’s Science Daily, for you math weenies out there (Derb, are you reading this?): a historic breakthrough in the theory of partitions.

Living In Grass Houses, Throwing Stones

There’s an interesting item in today’s Science Daily: a paper by University of Wyoming researcher Qin Zhu et al., suggests that the human size-weight illusion — which makes us think, if holding two objects of equal weight, that the larger one actually weighs less — is an evolved adaptation that helped us find objects of […]


In our previous post we republished the statement before his inquisitors of Lars Hedegaard, the president of the International Free Press Society, who stands trial, in a supposedly free nation of northern Europe, for the crime of uttering a forbidden opinion in his own home. You would think that the leading newspapers of the capital […]

Retard And Catch

By now you probably know that the high-flying New York Jets, en route to Dallas, were brought down Sunday night by a severe patch of turbulence over Pittsburgh — the result, perhaps, of an expanding pocket of hot air that had lingered in the team’s vicinity for several weeks. In case you missed the game, […]

Lights Going Out In Europe

The show trial of Lars Hedegaard, the president of the International Free Press Society, took place today in Copenhagen. He stands accused, for remarks he made in a privately taped interview, of violating a Danish law that allows a prosecutor to bring criminal charges against anyone deemed to have spoken words that insult or degrade […]

Like A Hell-Broth Boil And Bubble

In the wake of events in Tunisia, things are heating up all over the Mideast and the Maghreb. In particular, events are coming to a head in Lebanon and Yemen. From the indispensable Nightwatch: Yemen: Ripple Effects from Tunisia. On Saturday, thousands of Yemenis demonstrated to demand an end to President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s 32-year […]

He Found His Thrill On Triangle Hill

At last week’s state dinner for Hu Jintao, the pianist Lang Lang, who has a regular gig at the White House these days, provided some entertainment for the guest of honor. What did he play? Learn more here. Related content from Sphere

…And Rest.

We note with sadness the passing of TV fitness coach Jack LaLanne, who has died at his California home at the age of 96. It’s a bit of a jolt to realize the man was mortal. Mr. LaLanne taught generations of Americans the value of exercise; my mother and I used to follow along with […]

Trouble Ahead, Trouble Behind

From Foreign Policy, by way of the indefatigable JK.

…Or Are You Just Glad To See Me?

“Yellowstone Has Bulged as Magma Pocket Swells” — headline, National Geographic, January 19

Grassroots Movement

“One-third of Zimbabwe registered voters are dead” — headline,, January 21

Steyn On Decline

In today’s New York Times we learn that President Obama, to his credit, recently made clear to President Hu Jintao that if China would not do more to contain North Korea, the USA would have no choice but to increase its military presence in the region. China has, in response, made a few helpful gestures. […]

Hankins On Chalmers

I haven’t written much about philosophy of mind lately, which used to be a frequent topic around here. The reason, mostly, is that the subject is so intractable, and progress so difficult, that I just got tired of writing about it. But these ancient questions still fascinate me, and I still return to them now […]

Piled So High

It appears that today we published our 2000th post. If I had any sense of decency or proportion that would surely suffice; needless to say, however, I’ll keep on shoveling. Related content from Sphere

One Million Jobs

According to “a review of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census Bureau data conducted exclusively for Reuters by researchers at the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston”, it appears that since the beginning of the current recession more than a million U.S. jobs have been taken by recent immigrants, an […]

That’s Better

Well, I don’t know about you (and I can’t speak for the rest of my conservative friends in the Reichstag), but I’m certainly enjoying this new era of civility. May it last a thousand years! Related content from Sphere

Red Carpet, Brown Nose

Today President Obama welcomes Hu Jintao, the president of China. Mr. Hu will be feted with pomp and circumstance, including the highest honor that official American hospitality can provide: a state dinner at the White House. In other words, today the recipient of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize is entertaining, with full state honors, the […]

LBJ Orders Pants


Persona Non Grata

I have a feeling we’ll be hearing more about this.

This Just In

Here’s a scoop, as dispatched by our monocular Bay Area correspondent: Thousands of Sports Fans Drunk After Football, Baseball Games I understand this is the cover story for the forthcoming issue of DUH! magazine, but you heard it here first. Related content from Sphere

Go Figure

Today’s lead item: it appears that Candy Dynamics, of Indianapolis, IN, acting out of “an abundance of caution”, has decided to issue a voluntary recall of an acidulous confection called Toxic Waste Nuclear Sludge Chew Bars, which they import from Pakistan. Apparently the stuff isn’t good for you. More here. Related content from Sphere

3D The Hard Way

I like it for watching “Nictitate at Nite”. Here.

Sunday Salmagundi

It’s getting late, and having spent the day cleaning out a spare room, editing MIDI drum parts on Pro Tools, and watching the stupendous upset of Tom Brady and the Patriots by our hometown team, I have to dig into the old grab-bag for tonight’s post. Here are a few diverting links: First, a bug […]

Public Service Announcement

For those of you who haven’t heard, your astrological sign may not be what you thought it was. Here are the correct assignments, valid until further notice. Capricorn: Jan. 20-Feb. 16 Aquarius: Feb. 16-March 11 Pisces: March 11-April 18 Aries: April 18-May 13 Taurus: May 13-June 21 Gemini: June 21-July 20 Cancer: July 20-Aug. 10 […]

And Now For Something Completely Different

OK, time to change the subject. It’s been a terrible few days, and everybody’s frazzled and cranky. (Why, if I’m not careful, I might even lose my cool.) We’ve had quite enough politics around here to last us for at least a day or two, I think. So, lets see here… (rummaging around on desk) […]

Bad Moon Rising

I very much wanted to change the subject, to write about something else tonight. But it is becoming increasingly clear that the tension between Left and Right in this country is moving far beyond mere matters of policy — and as I wrote in a comment at another website today, the level of animosity now […]

Hope This Helps

The Arizona shootings have brought about a secondary crisis: massive overuse of the word “vitriol”. (The word appeared in nearly every letter published on the subject in today’s Times.) As a public service, then, and in a heartfelt spirit of bipartisanship, here are some substitutes that writers on the Left can use when describing the […]

Which Way To Turn?

Given all the bickering going on between Left and Right, it seems apt to mention an item in today’s Science Daily newsletter: a story about new results in the study of biological molecular chirality, something I’ve been curious about for a while. A brief explanatory preface: Molecules with identical chemical structure can come in mirror-image […]

Jared Lee Loughner

As mentioned in the post just below, the person in custody in the Tucson shootings is a young white male named Jared Lee Loughner. Although the Left has already begun spitting venom at conservatives in general and the Tea Party in particular (they are going to regret it, I think; I am reminded of when […]

Murder Most Foul

There is horrible news breaking from Tucson, where Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, a Democrat and supporter of “immigration reform” has apparently been assassinated in a mass shooting. (As of 3:13 EST it is still not certain that she has died, though several news agencies are reporting that she was killed.) Not only is this a despicable […]

Regaining Altitude

Well, whatever it was that hit me yesterday, I hope I never get it again. I left my Midtown office just after publishing yesterday’s post, shuffled the third of a mile to the F train at a pace roughly equal to that of an advancing glacier, made a supreme effort to get back up to […]

Terrain! Terrain!

I am not at all well today; a sudden onset of some stupefying chest-and-fever affliction has me slumped over my desk and wondering if I’ll make it home from the office. Back in harness tomorrow, I hope. Related content from Sphere

Race Maps

We hear a lot about the inherent goodness, copious blessings, and paramount importance of diversity, but the obvious fact of history is that diverse populations frequently disaggregate, very often violently, into more homogeneous assortments. Shocking though it may be, there actually seems to be some truth to the obsolete and offensive notion that people, on […]

Curiouser And Curiouser

You may have been puzzled, as was I, to see the story the other day of the murder of John P. Wheeler, lawyer and former military officer, whose mortal remains were discarded in a garbage dump in Wilmington, Delaware. Now, various sources are alleging a link between the murder of Mr. Wheeler, an “inside” expert […]

Turn Out The Lights, The Party’s Over

On Boxing Day, the NFL announced that it was cancelling the Eagles-Vikings game. The reason? It looked like it was going to snow. I couldn’t believe it. Tough men playing in brutal conditions is (or, I suppose I should say, was), an unshakable pillar of the football mystique. No matter how bad it gets, the […]

Something Fishy In Arkansas; Fowl Play Suspected

In 2007 I wrote a post about Charles Fort, a dogged and eloquent eccentric who spent his life in the pursuit of what he called “damned facts” — eyewitness accounts of inexplicable phenomena that had been cast aside and swept into the incinerator by smug Victorian science. In four immensely engaging books — I can […]

Comic Relief

When my well runs dry, as it has in the wearying final weeks of 2010, I want nothing more than to withdraw from the world, switch off the computer, cancel the newspaper, siphon off a vial of Caledonia’s tawny restorative, and read old books in silence and solitude. There are a few writers who always […]

There Is A Tide

The Outer Cape in winter may be chilly, sparsely populated, and a little bleak (all of which suits me just fine), but one of the pleasures of being here in the cold months is the shell-fishing. In winter, when our highly prized oysters are at their peak of flavor and plumpness, the Wellfleet oyster-beds are […]