Monthly Archives: February 2012

The Penny Drops

It took a year, but it seems reality is finally beginning to impinge upon Thomas Friedman, who, of all people, should have known better all along. Beginning to impinge, I say, because there is one reality — the elephant, as they say, in the room — that he, and most of the academic and political […]

Moscow On The Gowanus

Here you go, folks: the live-tweeting of last night’s Park Slope Food Co-op meeting.

Wasn’t Born Yesterday

AP is reporting that “Israeli officials say they will not warn the U.S. if they decide to launch a pre-emptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. The pronouncement, delivered in a series of private, top-level conversations with U.S. officials, sets a tense tone ahead of meetings in the coming days at the White House and in […]

Rights And Privileges

Last spring I wrote a brief post called Golden Mean, reproduced below in full: 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 […]


It appears that the George Friedman resignation letter we mentioned here has turned out to be a hoax. (Thanks to reader Dom for the tip.) More here.

Worst Of Both Worlds

Here’s a rotten piece of legislation: the Virginia Senate has passed a bill requiring women to undergo an ultrasound examination prior to an abortion. The bill includes language saying that the procedure is to “to determine gestation age”, but that is surely a red herring; obviously the measure is an attempt to confront women with […]

Dads, Cads, and Social Fads

Excellent post on monogamy over at Mangan’s. Read it here.

Cat People

At the beginning of his book Breaking the Spell, Daniel Dennett wrote: You watch an ant in a meadow, laboriously climbing up a blade of grass, higher and higher until it falls, then climbs again, and again, like Sisyphus rolling his rock, always striving to reach the top. Why is the ant doing this? What […]

Friedman: Fired, Man

Speaking of where the buck stops, it appears that George Friedman has stepped down as the head of STRATFOR in response to the recent hacking attack against them, in which client accounts containing credit cards, passwords, etc., were breached. Related content from Sphere

The Buck Stops Nowhere

A while back, in a private correspondence with a conservative blogger about what the Left means when it talks about “social justice”, I wrote the following: Daniel Dennett once wrote that “if you make yourself small enough, you can externalize everything”. The central principle of liberal “justice”, and of Rawlsian justice, is exactly that: to […]

Teller Tells

Okay, enough grumpiness. Time for a lighter note, to ring in the weekend. In this item, magician Teller talks about the tricks of the trade.

The High Moral Ground

Remember all those sanctimonious calls from the Left for “civility” in the wake of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting? New York Times columnist and race-warrior Charles Blow appears not to have got the memo. Come to think of it, it looks like Slate’s Alex Pareene didn’t either. Related content from Sphere

On Behalf Of The Rest Of Us

Now that President Obama has made his apology to Hamid Karzai for those Korans that got burned the other day, a concerned American woman expresses her own regrets in this video clip. Update: And here’s Newt Gingrich, explaining things to Piers Morgan. Related content from Sphere


After working all day and teaching class this evening, I’m spent. So for tonight, just a few links to keep you occupied: — Nothing new under the sun. — Plan B: Algae! — The birds and the bees. — Last but not least, news you can use: How to to deal with those annoying roadblock […]


Dennis Prager floats an interesting idea: allowing citizens to indicate in advance whether they wish to pursue the death penalty in the the event of their being murdered. It would be like checking the organ-donation box on your driver’s license. Mr. Prager remarks: I can’t think of one good argument against it — unless you’re […]


John Derbyshire commented, in last Friday’s Radio Derb podcast, on the Dharun Ravi trial getting underway today in New Jersey (this is the case in which a gay Rutgers student named Tyler Clementi killed himself some time after Mr. Ravi had secretly recorded Mr. Clementi kissing a male student in his dorm room). The case […]

Sine Of The Times

Google has commemorated the 150th birthday of Heinrich Hertz, the physicist for whom the standard unit for the frequency of oscillating waves is named, with one of its “doodle” tributes. Here it is: Forgive me, but as an audio engineer I have to say that this image is very poorly chosen, and will offend, in […]

Partly Sunny

Here’s a pair of images for you: an eclipse of the Sun, as seen from Earth orbit, in visible light and ultraviolet.

Blowing Hot And Cold

Regular visitors will know that the waka waka waka editorial board has long regarded global-warming alarmism with a wary eye. (See our collection of related posts here.) There are so many who stand to benefit from warmist scare-mongering — academics enjoying lavish financial support and the eager attention of media and political institutions around the […]

Yellow Journalism

Last week ESPN used the long-familiar phrase ‘a chink in the armor’ in reference to the apparent invincibility of NBA sensation Jeremy Lin. Predictably, a ruction ensued, and as is usual in such cases, the network groveled, and two new heads-on-pikestaffs were mounted on the battlements outside the Ministry of Speech. We now have a […]

Word Lens

Speaking of my daughter Chloë, she dropped by today and showed me an amazing new application she has downloaded for her iPhone. I’m a lifelong techie, and it takes a lot to bowl me over, but I’m bowled over. See it in action here. Related content from Sphere

Skin Gun

A remarkable innovation, by the look of it: article here, video here.

Quality Time

When my daughter Chloë was very little — just a baby — I used to rock her in my arms to send her off to sleep. Soothing music always seemed to help her on her way. One evening I put on an album by the seminal jazz ensemble Weather Report, and I could tell the […]


For his heresies, Patrick Buchanan has now officially been sacked by MSNBC. (I’ll confess that I’m surprised he lasted so long.) He comments here.

Civis Britannia Sum

Poking around online just now, I ran across the text of the speech given in the House of Commons by Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston, regarding his condemnation in the “Don Pacifico affair”. The Pacifico kerfuffle arose in 1847, when Mr. Pacifico, the Portuguese consul to Athens, had his house plundered by a mob. […]

Cuts Both Ways

Ever since the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” began its ontogeny in whatever sunless Congressional womb such hell-spawn are gestated, conservatives have howled that it reposes too much power in the Federal government (to be specific, in the capricious Executive Branch) — and so presents a grave threat to cherished liberties. “Suck it up, […]

A Word, If I May

Sorry to harp so much on politics and social issues lately, but these are parlous times, and a great deal is at stake. A reader reminded me the other day that many of the categories over on the sidebar — categories that used to be the busiest ones — are now nearly “widowed”. The reader […]

Exempli Gratia

From Tocqueville’s Democracy In America, 1840: After having thus taken each individual one by one into its powerful hands, and having molded him as it pleases, the sovereign power extends its arms over the entire society; it covers the surface of society with a network of small, complicated, minute, and uniform rules, which the most […]

An Onomastic Conundrum

In medieval times, tradesmen took surnames that reflected their profession. If you were John, and you baked bread for a living, you’d be John Baker. A great many of these names persist, e.g. Archer, Bailey, Baker, Barber, Bishop, Bowman, Brewer, Carpenter, Carter, Cartwright, Carver, Chandler, Chaplin, Chapman, Clark, Collier, Conner, Cook, Cooper, Cutler, Dean, Dyer, […]

Necessary And Proper

In a recent comment-thread I cited William Voegeli’s opinion that liberalism admits of “no limiting principle” regarding what government can and should do. Indeed, one of our own more liberal commenters assured us not long ago that the bulging Constitutional aneurysm commonly known as the Commerce Clause is, in his opinion, “infinitely elastic”. We will […]

From The Mailbag

A reader just forwarded me one of those whimsical emails that people pass around the Internet. I usually don’t post such things, but it’s a slow night… I’ve been saying for a while that the problem facing America today is no longer a problem of conservatives and liberals learning to get along — we’ve gone […]

Contra Kristof

Nicholas Kristof weighed in today on the Catholic-contraception kerfuffle, in a Times op-ed piece. Even Mr. Kristof acknowledges that this issue is hardly cut-and-dried. He writes: Look, there’s a genuine conflict here. Many religious believers were sincerely offended that Catholic institutions would have to provide coverage for health interventions that the church hierarchy opposed. That […]

The Forgotten Man

Having just had yet another another arid and pointless dust-up about the Constitution, it seems apt to link to this interesting little art project, which comes to us courtesy of David Duff. Related content from Sphere

Ramen Invictus

Here’s something for you all to digest.

Rubber Match

The Obama administration made an embarrassing political blunder recently when it mandated, with swaggering disregard of First Amendment niceties and pugnacious indifference to the moral teachings of the Roman Church, that Catholic organizations would be required to provide contraceptives to their employees. When Catholic institutions objected, they were told they had a year to get […]

Kim On Vallicella On Dennett

Our friend Kevin Kim has written a meaty response to Bill Vallicella’s latest remarks on Dennettian theoskepsis. (The study of religion is Kevin’s academic specialty; and in passing I’ll recommend his book Water From a Skull for those with an interest in the field of comparative religion.) A quibble: in this post Kevin discusses Bill’s […]


This item has left me speechless, so I’ll just pass it along without comment.

When Shepherds Pipe on Oaten Straws

The fragrant efflorescence of the Arab Spring is, as the old song goes, “busting out all over”. A particularly lovely blossom is the one we so carefully nurtured in Libya, where, as the Times reports today, the nation is descending into sanguinary chaos. Our love’s labour there is done, it seems; we are busy gardeners, […]


To distract us from worldly worries and woes: two brainteasers from Jeopardy! star Ken Jennings. Two puzzles: NOT SO HARD and YES VERY HARD. NOT SO HARD. Can you think of a food that becomes a synonym for “later” when it’s spelled backwards? YES VERY HARD. I just wrote down a lower-case, seven-letter word–something you […]

Cooling On Warming

Here’s the latest crack in the AGW stonewall (courtesy of VFR).

Over There

For those of you with an interest in strategic security and geopolitics, here are two items just in that I think are worth your time: first, a surprising comment from NightWatch on the situation in Syria; second, an analysis by George Friedman of the stalemate in Afghanistan. See also this overview of the “Arab spring” […]

Rara Avis

A reader sends us an impressive clip of Russia’s SU-30 multi-role fighter in flight. This is what matches up against our Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning “Joint Strike Fighter”. As formidable as this thing is, the tip of the spear as far as Russian air power is concerned is the fifth-generation Sukhoi PAK-FA (T-50). The matchup […]

Bay State Blues

Drove up to Massachusetts this evening; stopped in Orleans to pick up supplies. The place seemed to be in a somber mood, for some reason. From the snatches of conversation I overheard, it seems some local chap by the name of Welker must have died, or is going to die, or something. Couldn’t quite make […]


We’re all familiar with the importance, in Oriental cultures, of “saving face”. Now a Japanese outfit offers consumers a new way to do so. Note: the linked page is in Japanese; you may want to have Google translate it for you. Related content from Sphere



Long Ago And Far Away

It’s easy to lose perspective with one’s nose pressed up against the local affairs of this evanescent speck of dust we call home. So: zooming out just a little from U.S. politics, here’s a nice example of gravitational lensing: a “magnified” galaxy that we see as it was two-thirds of the age of the Universe […]


For the past month or so, common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) have been stranding themselves in record numbers on Wellfleet’s bay and harbor beaches. Here and here are some video clips from CNN. Wellfleet has always been a hotspot for this sort of thing; the clean cold waters of the harbor are full of good things […]

Skunk At The Garden Party

There was a positive jobs report today, and the markets, starved for encouragement, rallied. Obviously any upbeat economic news is to be welcomed, but it’s election season too, and so for the loyal opposition these little silver linings come complete with little clouds. (Those who found the Bush years unbearable often found themselves rooting for […]

Post-Racial America

Just saw this, from our “uniter”-in-chief: Today, we’re announcing the 2012 launch of African Americans for Obama. There’s no better time than African American History Month to consider the tremendous progress we’ve made through the sacrifice of so many—or a better time to commit to meeting the very real challenges we face right now. Visit […]

It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Ging

I just ran across an old article by my sigung for many years, Master Yee Chi Wai (aka Frank Yee). It’s a discussion of the many varieties of ging, or internal power, that are cultivated by the advanced Hung Ga practitioner. The Hung system, in which the student must endure years of grueling stance and […]