Monthly Archives: January 2013

Machines Making Machines

This is fantastic: Japanese robots making German cars. Hat tip: William Gibson.

It Can Happen Here

Here’s a timely quote from Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, in which he describes the same liability that so vexed the Founders: If ever the free institutions of America are destroyed, that event may be attributed to the unlimited authority of the majority, which may at some future time urge the minorities to desperation, and oblige […]

Isn’t It Romantic?

More on why women in combat units is a really bad idea. Will somebody remind me again why this is necessary? (HT- Laura Wood.)

Competition For Excrement Is Fierce

If you’re like me (of course you are!), you’ve been lying awake at night, asking yourself: “How the hell do South African dung beetles roll their balls in a straight line? Sure, polarized light from the Sun works fine during the day (duh!), but what about at night, when many of them do their best […]

Uff Da!

The latest global-warming story from the Research Council of Norway: things aren’t as bad, perhaps, as Mr. Gore, IPCC, and the rest of the AGW syndicate might have you believe. Excerpt: After Earth’s mean surface temperature climbed sharply through the 1990s, the increase has levelled off nearly completely at its 2000 level. Ocean warming also […]

Stairway To Hell

In case you haven’t been paying attention, a major Egyptian city has descended into anarchy and violent chaos. I’ve no time for commentary, but you can read about it here. Related content from Sphere

Epochs Sometimes Occur

More from Tocqueville’s Democracy In America: There is one sort of patriotic attachment which principally arises from that instinctive, disinterested, and undefinable feeling which connects the affections of man with his birthplace. This natural fondness is united to a taste for ancient customs, and to a reverence for ancestral traditions of the past; those who […]


Remember those “recess appointments” to the National Labor Relations Board that President Obama went ahead and made last January, when the Senate wasn’t in recess? The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia today ruled them unconstitutional. The Obama administration seems inclined to ignore the ruling, with Jay Carney today declaring that […]

No Big Deal

Here’s a refreshingly forthright article about abortion, in which the author, one Mary Elizabeth Williams, avoids altogether the impossibly difficult task of parsing exactly when life “begins”. She cuts the Gordian knot by conceding, arguendo, that life begins at conception, and then justifies abortion on the grounds that some lives are simply worth more than […]

Tocqueville on Civic Engagement

I’ve just read through both volumes of Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, which I had never read before in full. Tocqueville’s task throughout the book was to take the splintering-off of America from Europe as a controlled experiment on the grandest scale — and by identifying the independent variables, thereby to come to a […]

Fun With Science

How to make a rail gun. Here.

Professional Hard-Asses

If, like most folks, you’re a bit fuzzy on the historical context of that Algerian hostage-taking affair, here’s an excellent article.

War On Women

The Secretary of Defense today announced that women will now have a front-line role in combat. Here’s why this is such a bad idea that virtually every society everywhere in the world throughout history has used only males as warriors: – War is an existential conflict. Nations that lose wars stand to lose everything. – […]

Wond’ring Aloud

Can anyone explain to me why the United States is giving Egypt two hundred tanks and sixteen F-16s? The answer should not be that “we signed an agreement that we are now honoring”. We signed that agreement with Hosni Mubarak, a man we could rely on to maintain a stable peace with our principal ally […]

Cards On The Table

Yuval Levin has written an excellent, and even-tempered, response to yesterday’s unapologetically collectivist speech by the President. Levin seizes on what I also thought was a key point, namely that Mr. Obama remains frankly and resolutely committed to the hollowing out of the essential layers of civil society that stand between the individual citizen and […]

Cap And Tirade

Speaking of yesterday’s inauguration, some of you might not have seen the hat that Justice Antonin Scalia wore. More here.

The Next Generation Of Democrats

Commenting on a recent item, one of our regular readers shared with us a fulsome effusion about yesterday’s reinstallation of our nation’s chief executive. Monday’s re-enactment of the actual swearing in, which took place on Sunday, was attended by the usual pomp and pageantry. It was attended also by a heterogeneous conglomerate of ethnic, cultural, […]

Crush! Kill! Destroy!

In case any of you (perhaps those of you who have been held prisoner in a sub-basement by your evil stepfather for the past few decades, or you folks miraculously emerging from a persistent vegetative state) have any lingering doubt about the partisan alignment of certain media outlets, here’s the political director of CBS News […]

Talking Sense About Semiautomatics

Champion sharpshooter Jessie Duff demonstrates a variety of semiautomatic firearms for Sean Hannity, making clear once again that the hysterical focus on so-called “assault rifles” is ignorant idiocy. (Look, for example, at the damage done by that 12-gauge.) As with all semiautomatics: one round per trigger pull. Related content from Sphere

Google Taketh Away

Gates of Vienna is down again.


There’s a truly shocking news item making the rounds: an inspection of Air Force facilities has turned up — you’d better sit down first — inappropriate material. There were calendars with scantily clad women, R-rated movies, and even — it’s hard for me to bring myself to tell you this, readers, but in the interest […]

Want Kraken On That?


Clarity vs. Claptrap

Here’s an informative slideshow about so-called “assault weapons”.

Far Away, Long Ago

Here’s an interesting little item: a collection of maps, from 1932, showing how long it took to travel in the U.S., in days of yore. (From New York, of course.) Related content from Sphere

Then Play On

Some very nice bass-playing here (reminds me of Paul Jackson, from Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters band). Fun to watch, too.

Come ON, People

Criminy. Gates of Vienna has now been taken down. That’s very bad. And it didn’t have to happen. Attention, thoughtcrime bloggers: GET YOUR OWN DOMAIN AND HOSTING. It’s easy. You know who you are. Your voices are vitally important, and more so every day, as the shades of night descend upon the West. Are you […]

Have A Butcher’s

Here’s something you language weenies will enjoy: an online dictionary of British slang.

Sauce For The Gander

For the Consideration of the General Publick: The Safety of its elected Magistrates being of the highest Concern to a free Society, and the presence of Fire-arms being, as we are continually assured, a Catalyst for mortal Peril, there can be little Doubt that the surest Measure for the Protection and Defense of our Chief […]

Let’s Get Real

Last week the New York Times published an Op-Ed piece by Susan Jacoby called The Blessings of Atheism. In it, Ms. Jacoby attempts to rebut a colleague’s remark, apropos of Newtown, that atheism has no consolation to offer when people are suffering. I’m an atheist myself, and I think Ms. Jacoby is on a fool’s […]

Tread Carefully

Seizing its chance, New York’s legislature has now, in a breathless rush of immoderate and ill-considered haste, passed one of the nation’s strictest gun laws. Similar measures are soon to be attempted at a national level. Those in power should be mindful, just now, not to push too hard, too fast; there is a tremendous […]

Then And Now

Barack Obama vs. Barack Obama on the debt ceiling. Here.

Hard Science

Here’s another shocker from the frontiers of medical research: Slimmer Women’s Waist is Associated with Better Erectile Function in Men Independent of Age IIEF scores don’t lie, folks. Story here. Related content from Sphere

Target-Rich Environment

I haven’t posted anything for a while about the Left’s latest spasm of gun-control hysteria, so let’s catch up a bit with some miscellaneous items. By far the loudest of the torch-and-pitchfork mob has been the swinish, unapologetically ignorant prig Piers Morgan, whose idea of a “debate” has been to insult and shout down his […]

Down In The Valley…

The Uncanny Valley, that is. Here.

In ? We Trust

I’m an admirer of the philosopher Daniel Dennett. He can be overconfidently brusque and dismissive, and in particular I have parted company with him on the issue of activist atheism (more about that in a minute), but he has an enviably fertile and wide-ranging intellect. He’s also a terrific writer; in particular I highly recommend […]

Gotta Look Sharp!

Spring’s on its way, guys! If you want to nail that big job interview, or just look your best at the local biker-bar, it’s time to hit the stores. Related content from Sphere

Here Comes The Sun

The National Research Council has issued a new report, considering in unprecedented depth a startling possibility: that variability in the energy output of the sun might have an effect on Earth’s climate. Watts Up With That has posted a lengthy and detailed discussion here. (Hat-tip: David Duff.) Related content from Sphere


Well, the Oscar nominations are out, and the nation is abuzz as always. Tell you what, though: ever since this groundbreaking film didn’t make the cut a couple of years ago, I’ve kind of lost interest. Related content from Sphere

Belief In Belief

Since emerging, chastened, from the militant atheism of my not-so-distant past, I have in recent years come round, despite being an unbeliever myself, to the opinion that wide-scale secularism is a maladaptation that sharply — perhaps even lethally — reduces a society’s fitness. In a recent lecture at Washington University in St. Louis, George Will […]

Seen With Just The Right Faces

Courtesy of Bill Keezer, here’s Victor Davis Hanson on the exculpatory blessings of hipness. I used to be pretty hip myself, you know. After reading this, I’m starting to think that maybe I should give it another go. Related content from Sphere


America’s ideological landscape is like the continent itself: transected by deep fault-lines at the irregular boundaries of rigid plates. Though crushed tightly together, these great masses seek to move in different directions, and so they strain relentlessly against one another. The pressure builds, and builds — until, sooner or later, it must release itself in […]

Long Ago And Far Away

From 1967: Woody Allen and William F. Buckley.

All Is Not Lost

There’s been so much focus lately on the senescence and decline of Western culture that I think it’s important to take a minute, now and then, to remind ourselves that we still possess much of great and lasting value — and that the magnificent legacy of Plato and Aristotle, of Shakespeare, Leonardo, Beethoven, Goethe, Newton, […]

Coarse And Strong And Cunning

Here’s a heartwarming item from the Windy City. As Sandburg said: “Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action.”

The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be

Boy, you can say that again. Here’s a glimpse from the year of my birth: cars, kitchens, and kitsch, in an unforgettable nine-minute movie. Hat tip to Iowahawk. Related content from Sphere

The Ol’ Slush Pump, Like You’ve Never Seen It Before

I’m whipped tonight. So here’s… A camera mounted on the slide of a trombone. Oddly entertaining.


The composer Sir Richard Rodney Bennett died this past Christmas Eve, and tonight WQXR played a selection of his works. One of them was from his score for the 1967 film Billion Dollar Brain, and it featured an eerie, flute-like instrument. At first I thought it was a Theremin, but then I realized it must […]

A Cautionary Tale

California, not so long ago the flagship of the American federation, has been going under for quite a while now: overfreighted with lavish entitlements, embarnacled with suffocating regulation, and holed below the waterline by demographic disintegration. Because attacking the root of the problem by reducing the expansion of government is for deep-blue California an ideological […]


There’s no shortage lately of the sort of topics I’d normally be commenting on. The ongoing Second Amendment “debate” is certainly one (this Vanity Fair piece deserves a good going over, for example, and I’ve piled up a lot of related material that needs organizing into a post). The eternal and stupendously useless budget war […]

Change We Can Believe In

In this brief item, Jim Pethokoukis weighs the various options for dealing with the looming debt-ceiling battle. Among them, in case you haven’t heard: trillion-dollar platinum coins.