Monthly Archives: April 2011

Sans Souci

The lovely Nina and I are unwinding by the sea this weekend, and so soothing to the inflamed spirit are the fragrant littoral breezes, so dulcifying the clear spring sunshine, that it’s going to be hard for me to work up any of the partisan tirades and effusions of bitter gall that usually grace these […]

Got Yer Back

In the latest New Yorker there’s an article by Ryan Lizza called “Leading from Behind”, which presents the President’s recent foreign-policy tactics as a way to do things without exposing ourselves to charges of unilateralist swagger. In a recent blog entry, Lizza explains: …at the heart of the idea of leading from behind is the […]

Golden Mean

If you look at any vigorous society in its prime, you see a healthy balance between rights and privileges. When either grows too much at the expense of the other, a nation declines: on the one hand toward impotent mediocrity, on the other into tyranny.

Story of O.

Not swooning over the One the way you used to? Do his declamatory cadences no longer give you that old thrill up your leg? Is the bloom off the rose? Is the honeymoon over? Are you bored with the hat, and looking for some cattle? Wish you’d ordered steak instead of sizzle? Andrew Malcolm understands.

Now, Voyager

Here’s a happy item: More than 30 years after they left Earth, NASA’s twin Voyager probes are now at the edge of the solar system. Not only that, they’re still working. And with each passing day they are beaming back a message that, to scientists, is both unsettling and thrilling. The message is, “Expect the […]

Elemental Fury

Here’s a harrowing video clip of today’s tornado in Alabama. The terror of the person filming it is palpable, and contagious.

Partnering Up

In the wake of the latest massacre of US personnel by our Muslim “allies”, here is a response from Diana West. We’ve lost our minds, and as a result the best among us are losing their lives.

Phoebe Snow, 1950-2011

We note with sadness the death of singer Phoebe Snow, whom those of us of a “certain age” will best remember for her beautiful 1974 song Poetry Man. I did not know Ms. Snow well, but I did know her slightly, having done a few recording sessions with her back in the 1990s. She was […]

If We Only Had The Nerve

In totalitarian states, you keep your private sentiments and beliefs about the world’s realities to yourself; the penalty is harsh for expressing opinions that conflict with the official line. Example: Khruschev was busy denouncing Stalin at a public meeting when a voice shouted out “If you feel this way now, why didn’t you say so […]

Field Of Dreams

For colleges, men’s sports are often hugely profitable, while women’s sports nearly always aren’t. This caused many schools not to support women’s sports at nearly the same level as men’s. Add to that the fact that far fewer young women than men are even interested in joining college sports teams — due, no doubt, to […]

Both Sides Now

Are deeds objective? If an agent performs some action X, then X influences the world’s causal network in some particular way, with particular consequences. Does it make sense to say that for the same X, X is good if performed by “good” agent Smith, and X is bad if performed by “bad” agent Jones? Why […]


It’s another busy spell for me; I haven’t had much time to comment on the passing scene since putting up that brief eugenics post last week, and I’ve had no time for writing today. But don’t touch that dial! I have something I’m sure you’ll enjoy: Ants As Fluids.


My birthday’s just gone by, on April 13th — but in case you’re wondering what to get me next year…

The Jubjub Hole


Over To You, Steve

A story that’s been making the rounds the past few days (thanks to the indefatigable JK for sending along this version of it) has to do with recent research that casts doubt on a cornerstone of contemporary thought about human language: namely that we all are born with a “language module” that constrains possible grammars […]

Penny Wise, Pound Foolish

A hot topic at the moment is taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood. Social and fiscal conservatives have allied themselves against it — the former because they think abortion is murder, the latter because they don’t think what Planned Parenthood does is among the government’s enumerated functions, and it costs money. Liberals support it, for all […]

A Brawlie Bairn

OK, enough politics. Time for a little Kumbaya, and maybe a reason to go on living. Here’s a young Scotsman by the name of Brendan MacFarlane. And here, and here.

Birth Pangs

I haven’t written much about this — I hate to get involved in this sort of thing, and prefer to focus on matters of genuine significance — but I must come out and say that it’s downright weird that the great big noisy fuss about the circumstances of President Obama’s birth hasn’t gone away. It […]

Up, Up And Away

I’ve been busy, so for tonight, with the budget debate on everybody’s mind, just a brief item: a post by statistician William Briggs that has as its central feature a starkly simple graph, devoid of any ideological content. It merely plots the amount spent by the US government per capita, year by year, in inflation-adjusted […]

Roger Nichols, 1944-2011

We note with sorrow the death, at 66, of the great recording engineer Roger Nichols — best known for the immaculate recordings and mixes he made with Steely Dan. His artistic brilliance and superb technical craftsmanship were an inspiration to me and to countless other engineers. His New York Times obituary is here.

OK, Fine With Me

As I write, the Dow is collapsing; it’s down 237 points, and heading south. The reason? Standard and Poor’s has downgraded its long-term outlook for the US to “negative”. The reason for that? Simply put, we’ve utterly failed to demonstrate that we are serious about controlling our exploding public debt. We’ve been hurtling toward a […]

Doyle Dykes

Who’s Doyle Dykes? Just one of the best finger-pickers alive. If you’ve never heard him play, you’re in for a treat. Here’s his version of that country classic, Wabash Cannonball.

Celebrity Deathmatch

This might be worth watching (I can’t say for sure, because I haven’t watched it myself yet): a debate between Sam Harris and William Lane Craig.

Those Darn Elections!

The conservative blogosphere is abuzz over Nancy Pelosi’s revealing remark that “Elections shouldn’t matter as much as they do.” A sample here, from Steven Hayward at Powerline.

Chicken or Egg?

In a timely follow-up to our previous post, here’s an article from Science Daily: Cultural Differences Are Evident Deep in the Brain of Caucasian and Asian People The lead paragraph: People in different cultures make different assumptions about the people around them, according to an upcoming study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the […]

The Moral IS the Story

In the (rambling) discussion thread to Sunday’s post, commenter Dom gave us a quote from Niall Ferguson’s book Civilization: The West and the Rest: He quotes a scholar from the Chinese Academy of the Social Sciences “We were asked to look into what accounted for … the success, in fact, the pre-eminence of the West […]


From today’s Physorg newsletter: So much for drowning your sorrows Alcohol helps the brain remember, says new study They’re still kind of short and skinny First galaxies were born much earlier than expected This is news? Europe may be slowly disappearing under Africa Enough with the fracking leaks! Fracking leaks may make gas ‘dirtier’ than […]

Some Thoughts On Liberty

I yammer on a lot about liberty in these pages, and sound the alarm when I think it is threatened. For all of that, though, I’m not an extreme libertarian; limitations on liberty are necessary for a well-functioning society. I just don’t like to see it limited beyond necessity, and I don’t like policies whose […]

Under New Management

The taxonomy of contemporary conservatism isn’t simple; it’s more of a bush than a tree. Nevertheless, we can point to at least one major bifurcation — at the level of phyla, one could say — and that is the split between secular and Christian conservatism. Christian conservatives, such as Pat Buchanan or Lawrence Auster, see […]

Right Brain, Left Brain

Here’s the latest stab at a neurological explanation of political attitudes: a study that associates conservatism with larger amygdalas, and liberalism with larger anterior cingulate gyruses. We read: Based on what is known about the functions of those two brain regions, the structural differences are consistent with reports showing a greater ability of liberals to […]

If Oumama Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy

Muammar Qaddafi has sent a letter to President Obama. Here it is: Our son, Excellency, President Obama U.S.A We have been hurt more morally that physically because of what had happened against us in both deeds and words by you. Despite all this you will always remain our son whatever happened. We still pray that […]

All Quiet On the Northern Front

If you’re looking for a tranquil place to live, the Institute For Economics and Peace has published a table of the most and least peaceful U.S. states. The top 10 are: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Minnesota, North Dakota, Utah, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Iowa, Washington. The bottom 10 are: Maryland, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, Alabama, […]

It’s On!

If you haven’t seen it yet (and by now you probably have): a spirited — to say the least! — response to Congressional archdhimmi Lindsey Graham, from a Colorado pepperpot by the name of Ann Barnhardt. Move over, Pat Condell! There’s a new kid in town. Watch it now, before it’s taken down.

Wall Tweet

Today’s Science Daily newsletter featured a story about a new website that mines Twitter postings to make stock-market predictions. Given that stock prices are themselves largely dependent on the sentiment of the crowd, there might be something to it. Read the article here, or visit the site itself:

Are We Not Men?

Andrew McCarthy, who has been on a tear lately, posted a very strong article today about the sniveling response by General David Petraeus and NATO ambassador Sedwill to the massacre of UN staff by a raging mob in Afghanistan. Read it here. And then read it again. What a nation of spineless, cringing quake-buttocks we […]

The Bubble

The other day I paid a visit to Google’s vast New York office complex to have lunch with my friend Greg, a former co-worker who took a job there about a year ago. As you’d imagine, it’s not your ordinary workplace. Everywhere you look, there are comforts, amusements, and diversions: toys, jungle rooms, sleeping pods, […]

Mission: Incomprehensible

Our surreal war in Libya has everybody talking. Here’s Mark Steyn: According to the New York Times, “Members of the NATO alliance have sternly warned the rebels in Libya not to attack civilians as they push against the regime of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.” We dropped bombs on Qaddafi’s crowd for attacking civilians, and we’re prepared […]

A Heavy Summons

Over at Mangan’s, Dennis questions commonly accepted ideas about sleep; it turns out that our sleaves may in fact last a little longer if we leave them a little ravel’d. Here.

Dear Moammar…

Over at NRO Andrew McCarthy comments on the amazing hypocrisy of the US government — particularly Sens. Lieberman, Kerry, and McCain — regarding Col. Qaddafi. I of course make no brief for Libya’s grotesque and brutal tyrant, but like him or not we had a deal, and our fickleness toward him — before their transmogrification […]

Road To Damascus

I’ve been re-reading the Koran the past few weeks. I’d previously read it only in bits and pieces, and I thought it was time I read it straight through, with truly focused attention and an open mind — and I have to say it has been, to put it mildly, an eye-opening experience. I’ve been […]