Monthly Archives: February 2016

The Marshmallow Test

In a 2013 post, Culture and Metaculture, I quoted a lengthy passage from the late Leszek Kolakowski’s Modernity on Endless Trial, in which he explains the way radical multiculturalism causes what I will call a kind of historical “stenosis”. As more cultures are added to the mix, all of which must be given equal weight, […]

Is Wisdom Obsolete?

Our previous post argued that because the world is now changing faster than it ever has, with even the pace of change itself accelerating sharply, any conservative or reactionary ideology that seeks simply to roll back the clock is doomed to fail. What I said was that any hope for an effective New Right depended […]

What Next?

Conservatives, and especially reactionaries, are often criticized as grumpy old geezers, yearning for a bygone world that is never coming back, and that was never, in fact, nearly as nice as they’d like to think it was. This is a fair point. It’s only older folks who have the perspective to see what’s really changed, […]

Music of the Spheres

Recently we noted a major scientific event: the detection of gravitational waves by the LIGO experiment. The other day, the physicist and cosmologist Brian Greene visited Stephen Colbert (yes, I’m linking to Stephen Colbert) to give an explanation and demonstration of the experiment. Watch it here. The big payoff: the actual “sound” of two black […]

Wrong, Wrong, Wrong

I had occasion today to pay a visit to one of the websites on our sidebar: The Fallacy Files. It’s one-stop shopping for examples of logical fallacies; I hadn’t visited for a while, and I’m glad to see it’s still in business. Even more comprehensive than our political comment-threads, I think. Related content from Sphere

Another Post About Physics

The results are still coming in as I write, but it seems Donald Trump has scored another crushing victory, this time in Nevada. It is becoming increasingly apparent that his campaign is, if anything, gaining momentum, and that he will likely be the one to take the field against whichever champion the Democrats put up […]


I want to thank everybody once again who emailed me in response to my previous post, and to all who commented. I had begun to have very serious doubts about whether I was really doing anything useful or helpful here, or just shouting up a drainpipe, and the many responses I received were enormously encouraging. […]

What am I doing here?

Our commenter ‘Musey’, in response to our previous post about Special Relativity, wrote from Australia to tell me her husband Martin said I’d “explained that very well”. Readers, if you look at my early archives you’ll see that I used to explain a lot of things in here that had nothing at all to do […]

How To Explain Special Relativity To Anyone Of Normal Intelligence In Ten Minutes

What we will explain is why, for objects moving uniformly in a straight line, time runs slower. We’ll use no mathematical symbols, and won’t even need any pictures! OK, here goes: Before we begin, you have to accept two facts. The first is that if you are in uniform motion, all the laws of physics […]

Thomas Sowell Endorses Ted Cruz

His column begins: Amid the petty bickering, loud rhetoric and sordid attack ads in this year’s primary election campaigns, the death of a giant — Justice Antonin Scalia — suddenly overshadows all of that. The vacancy created on the Supreme Court makes painfully clear the huge stakes involved when we choose a President of the […]

And Now For Something Completely Different

Time to look away, for a moment, from the gloomy downhill parade of current events. Instead, here’s a look at one of the most difficult systems of Chinese martial arts, as performed by Grandmaster Chan Sau Chung. (The quality of the video is poor, but the quality of the kung fu is exquisite.) I have […]

On The Confirmation Of Justices

Jonah Goldberg (with whom I agree about some things and not about others, as I do with pretty much everyone else on whatever we might very broadly call “the Right”) has posted some thoughtful remarks about the death of Antonin Scalia. You can read them here. This in particular stood out: The division of blame […]

The Rump Court

What does Antonin Scalia’s death mean for the action of the Court? In the broadest terms, there are four scenarios; three of which are unaffected, at least in purely numerical terms: The Supreme Court reviews lower-court decisions. Let us call decisions that would be upheld by conservative justices (Scalia, Alito, Thomas, and, generally speaking, Roberts) […]

Antonin Scalia, 1936-2016

It was with the profoundest shock and sorrow that I learned, early this evening, of the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. This is devastating news. I was an enormous admirer of this great jurist — not only as an irreplaceable defender of the Constitution, but as writer, a philosopher, a scholar, a humorist, a raconteur, […]

It Was A Bright Cold Day In April

Here’s your frisson du jour.

Service Notice

I’ve been using the hosting service Bluehost for eleven years now, and until recently I’ve been thrilled with their service, and have recommended them often to other bloggers. Lately, though, they’ve been scaling up, and downtime’s increased. Worse, their tech support, which used to be prompt and helpful, has been all but unreachable lately. We’ve […]

New Wave

It’s a big day in physics: researchers using the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) have confirmed the existence and propagation of ripples in spacetime caused by the movement of massive objects. The observation of such waves is a posthumous triumph for Albert Einstein, who first predicted their existence a century ago this year. While I’m […]

Today’s Assignment

With the presidential campaign now at cruising speed, I thought it might be helpful to offer some readings and reflections on the nature of democracy itself: what it really is, what it isn’t, and how it really works. Really, if you want to understand this contraption, what you ought to read is a book that […]


I. Want. This.

Not So Fast

Here’s a heartening item: Supreme Court freezes Obama plan to limit carbon emissions We read: The court granted a stay request from more than two dozen states, utilities and coal miners who said the Environmental Protection Agency was overstepping its powers… The stay means that questions about the legality of the program will remain after […]


About three years ago I wrote a brief item about Toxoplasma gondii, which is a cat-borne parasite that causes behavioral aberrations in mice — and appears to do the same in humans too. The article I originally linked to is here, and today I’ll add a link to another article, here. At the time, however, […]

Res Ipsa Schmipsa

“Evidence is fact that discriminates between one theory and another. Facts do not “speak for themselves.” They speak for or against competing theories. Facts divorced from theory or visions are mere isolated curiosities.” — Thomas Sowell, A Conflict Of Visions Related content from Sphere

Yeah, Yeah

The other day our President, Barack Hussein Obama, took time out of his busy schedule to visit a Baltimore mosque. There he delivered an obsequious panegyric about the glorious role of Islam in America’s history. (If there is a major, or even mid-tier, religion that has in fact played a lesser role in America’s founding, […]

Gone Away, Is The Bluebird

Snow in Wellfleet today. The view out our front door this afternoon:  

Skinless And Boneless

I’ve just read the testimony that Border Patrol agent Brandon Judd gave to the House Judiciary committee today. Some longish excerpts: In the late 1990s as a young Border Patrol Agent, I witnessed first-hand how adept these criminal cartels were at exploiting our policies. While I was working in the Buttercup Dunes in the remote […]

Bob Elliott, 1923-2016

Bob Elliott, the surviving member of the great comedy duo Bob & Ray, has died. He was 92. Nobody much younger than I am will even know who these people were. It’s the curse of the old that only they know, as the great mill of history grinds the past into dust, what has been […]

Duck Song

Among the most entertaining accounts on Twitter over the past year or so has been the reactionary heckler known to his audience as “The Duck” (@jokeocracy). With Twitter apparently getting ready to crack down on dissident-right accounts, the Duck decided to go out in blazing style, and spent a recent Sunday trolling mainstream, in particular […]

How’s The Water, Frogs?

From CNN: The Department of Homeland Security said Monday that the acting administrator for the Transportation Security Administration would be reassigned, following a report that airport screeners failed to detect explosives and weapons in nearly every test that an undercover team conducted at dozens of airports. According to a report based on an internal investigation, […]


Sorry — the little grey cells are resting tonight, so all I have is a few small items. ‣   The State Department recently announced that it would not be releasing some of the emails taken from the private, unsecured server Hillary Clinton kept in her bathroom in Chappaqua, because they are too secret. Former […]