Monthly Archives: May 2012

Better Boners Through Science


Loco Parentis

The infantilization of America, and the accelerating subordination of a free people to self-righteous, moralizing, totalitarian bureaucratic busybodies, continues apace. Here.

Sticks And Stones

In a rare online moment over the holiday weekend, I ran across an article in the Daily Mail about how our Department of Homeland Security, in its restless hunt for loquacious malefactors, scans the Internet for alarming words. The article lists scores of examples. I noted with interest, though, that the list is published on […]

Service Notice

This space will be mostly quiet for the next few days, as the lovely Nina and I occupy ourselves with spring cleaning, houseguests, and Memorial Day revelry. Enjoy the holiday weekend! Related content from Sphere

Small Step, Giant Leap

Singularity University‘s Peter Diamandis talks about the SpaceX Falcon launch. Here.


Our reader The Big Henry has been sending along some engaging science-related links lately, and he’s just sent me another. This one has to do with the possibility that “biophotons” — light quanta emitted within living cells — may be a channel for some sort of information transfer. I’ve never heard anything about this until […]


Life just keeps getting better.

Caduceus Ex Machina

From Brad Templeton’s blog: flying telepresence drones as medical first-responders. Here.

Smells Like Team Spirit

Here’s an item that should come as no surprise to anyone: Religion Is a Potent Force for Cooperation and Conflict, Research Shows The article discusses a paper by Scott Atran and Jeremy Ginges that describes religion as strongly fostering cooperation within human social groups, as a means of competing more successfully against other groups. We […]

Lower than 100%?

Coffee Drinkers Have Lower Risk of Death, Study Suggests

HDL Loses Its Halo?

Here’s an interesting item: “Good” Cholesterol Not So Good After All, New Study Shows The revelation that high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, is the “good cholesterol” has suffered a major blow. A meta-study involving over a hundred thousand participants used two different strategies to see if genetic mutations that increased levels of HDL also decreased risk […]

The Great Game

A few months ago one of our readers reader kindly sent me a copy of The Dictator’s Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics, by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith. I finally got around to reading it, and recommend it to you all. Here’s the publisher’s summary over at Amazon: For […]

Cue Chumbawumba

Attention, readers: Radio Derb is back. John Derbyshire, following his defenestration by National Review, has dusted himself off and taken his weekly podcast over to Taki’s. So far, there are three new installments. Have a listen here. And speaking of Derb, here’s a recent essay of his, also at Taki’s: Ridding Myself of the Day. […]

Engendered Species

From time to time in these pages we have noted the accelerating caponization of the Western male, as the grand project to bring the sexes into complete convergence somewhere deep in distaff territory continues apace. Fortunately, there are still a few pockets of resistance. Related content from Sphere


Here’s a novel approach to implementing coordinated behavior in a non-hierarchical “swarm” of autonomous machines: Biologists have long puzzled over the ability of bacteria and social insects to sense not only the presence of compatriots but their number and to synchronise their behaviour. It turns out that these creatures perform this synchronisation using a process […]

Colin Quinn, 1959-2012

Remember Colin Quinn? That Brooklyn comedian who was on Saturday Night Live for a while? I happened to be looking at Twitter just now and watched him destroy whatever was left of his professional life. In response to the news that the majority of babies born in the USA are now non-white, he emitted this: […]

Oh, Canada!

Attention, teens: if you need some help answering the call of the wild, then make your way to Sex: A Tell-All Exhibition, now running at Ottawa’s Museum of Science and Technology. The exhibit includes floor-to-ceiling photos of nude toddlers, children, teens and adults, and an array of heated, flavoured and textured condoms rolled over wooden […]

Chuck Brown, 1936-2012

As if the news out of Washington D.C. weren’t already depressing enough, here’s an especially sad item: Chuck Brown, the “Godfather of Go-Go”, has died at age 75. As noted here, I was lucky enough to do a record with Chuck long ago, and the lovely Nina and I saw him play just last summer […]

Sowell On Intellectuals

For those of you who might enjoy it, here’s a five-part interview with Thomas Sowell on the role of intellectuals in modern democracies. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5.) Churchill said this, once upon a time: The worst difficulties from which we suffer do not come from without. They come from within. They do not come […]


Ever since seeing Fantasia as a boy, I’ve been fascinated by animated renderings of music. Poking around online today I found two very different animations of J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto #6. Both are complete mappings of the musical score onto a scrolling visual display, and so both express the same information. I can’t decide, though, […]


I’ve mentioned “exponentially advancing technology” a lot lately. Think I was kidding?

Lost And Found

Here’s a poignant item from the Daily Mail: a P-40 Kittyhawk lost in the Sahara 70 years ago has just been discovered, preserved in the sands.

No Skyhook, But A Damned Fine Crane

Our reader Henry has sent along a thought-provoking item about a mechanism by which complex systems can bootstrap themselves into existence: autocatalytic sets. The idea is particularly intriguing in its metaphorical generality, and its applicability may well extend beyond chemistry to social and political domains as well. Have a look. An explanatory article is here, […]

He Does

The big news of the day is that President Obama, after years of reticence on the topic, has just announced that he supports same-sex marriage. I don’t suppose this will have much effect on the vote. It’s hard to imagine that his coming out in favor of SSM will snatch any supporters away from Mitt […]

Wheels Within Wheels

My, so many interesting things afoot in the Gulf and environs lately! Much to think about: — The ongoing game between AQAP and the Saudis… — …in particular, between Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri and Mohammed bin Nayef (little brother Abdullah Asiri having already sacrificed his life in vain on that score); — That Fahd al-Quso was […]

A Tale Of Two Systems

East Germany, before and after.

Half Of What I say Is Meaningless – But I Say It Just to Reach You, Julia

As depressing as presidential campaigns are, they can be entertaining, too, as long as you enjoy forms of entertainment that don’t cheer you up. President Obama just gave us a good example with his latest promotional offering, The Life of Julia, which chronicles a faceless, solitary woman’s journey “forward” from cradle to grave, apparently without […]

Danse Macabre

There’s a sad front-page article in today’s New York Times about frontotemporal dementia, a family of degenerative brain diseases that gradually destroy not only various skills and cognitive functions, but also the essential nature of a patient’s personality. These diseases are stark reminders that what we are — that all of what we are — […]

Cheap Date

Here’s a remarkable critter: a plant-animal chimera called Elysia chlorotica. Once it has dined on enough algae to prime its photosynthetic pump, it lives on nothing but sunlight, and never needs to eat again. Amazing. More photos here. Related content from Sphere

Gene Pool

Many years ago I stumbled across a book called The Descent of Woman, by Elaine Morgan. It was the first I’d ever heard of something called the “aquatic ape hypothesis”, which claims that certain features of the human body — our hairless skin, our bipedalism, and some other things you can read about here — […]

Lost World

It’s been a long day at work, but I might have managed to write a post nevertheless — had I not lost myself for the past hour at the infinitely engaging (at least for a well-seasoned old gaffer like me) ‘miscellaneous” page at Have a look for yourself. Related content from Sphere


We note with some surprise the Obama campaign’s adoption of the word Forward as its new slogan. The word has, of course, been a rallying cry of socialists and Marxists for a very long time — so much so that Wikipedia even has an entry about it. Perhaps this indicates a refreshing frankness on the […]

Eat Your Peas!

Uh-oh — according to Michael Marder, Ikerbasque Research Professor of Philosophy at the University of the Basque Country, Vitoria-Gasteiz, maybe we’d better not. We reserve comment.