All entries by this author

Is There a Shortage of Scientists in the US? *

Jul 7th, 2004 | Filed by

The inaccuracy of past pronouncements creates a woof-woof problem.… Read the rest

On Alexis de Tocqueville *

Jul 7th, 2004 | Filed by

The physics of democracy.… Read the rest

Interview with Ernst Mayr *

Jul 7th, 2004 | Filed by

‘Biology is an autonomous science and should not be mixed up with physics.’… Read the rest

In Biology Everyone Stands in Mayr’s Shadow *

Jul 7th, 2004 | Filed by

‘Mayr’s life defies the myth that elderly scientists are incapable of changing their minds.’… Read the rest

The Nuances of That Word *

Jul 7th, 2004 | Filed by

You? Yourself? Or off? Hitchens suggests off is best.… Read the rest

There Are Limits, After All

Jul 6th, 2004 11:21 pm | By

Okay, that does it. I’m going to have to put my foot down. (Ooh, scary.) I’m going to have to get all authoritarian and domineering – all prescriptive instead of descriptive. There’s no help for it.

There was a discussion on Crooked Timber the other day about the odd usage whereby ‘argue that’ means the opposite of what it means. The example that caught Harry’s attention was this one: ‘Though few would argue that children should be protected from exposure to Internet pornography, COPA, the law designed to protect them has been struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.’ You see the problem? It’s confusing, and stupidly confusing – you realize (from the context) when you get to the end … Read the rest

Judy, Judy, Judy

Jul 6th, 2004 8:17 pm | By

Here we go again. What is it about Judith Butler that makes people come over all delusional? That causes them 1) to exaggerate her fame and celebrity and stardom and name-recognition in an utterly grotesque manner and 2) causes them to overestimate her real as opposed to apparent or fame-related importance, interest, originality, ‘insight’, profundity, originality, and brilliance?

Well, I suppose one answer is, shall we say, a certain lack of nous. At least on the evidence of this article in Salon that seems to be one answer. [Note: you have to click through a brief advert to read article.] For instance there is the sentence ‘Butler even made headlines in the New York Times when she won an … Read the rest

Open Democracy on Multiculturalism *

Jul 6th, 2004 | Filed by

Does multiculturalism lead to cultural relativism? What about the universal standards of human rights?… Read the rest

Sucking Up to Judith Butler *

Jul 6th, 2004 | Filed by

Superstar, classic, defining work, platinum album, seminal work, provocative, immense success, etc.… Read the rest

The Fahrenheit 9/11 Files

Jul 6th, 2004 2:30 am | By

And now to be serious again. Or maybe not so much serious as slightly less egomaniacal. The discussion of Michael Moore’s new movie rages on. Or not really rages, perhaps, but several people are talking about it. Todd Gitlin, for example, who has some reservations –

But now a pause for a moment of conscience. Let intellect have its due. Moore cuts plenty of corners, so how good can that be? Compelling? Useful? Moore specializes in hodgepodge. He jokes his way past the rough edges. He’s neither journalist nor documentarian, for he doesn’t set out to discover what he doesn’t already know. To patronize Michael Moore by calling him useful is to give him a pass for shoddy work, sloppy

Read the rest

Moore Could be Better and Still Be Moore *

Jul 5th, 2004 | Filed by

‘He could show us that war kills and Bush is appalling, and yet be more scrupulous.’… Read the rest

Arab News Media and the ‘Blood of Martyrs’ *

Jul 5th, 2004 | Filed by

‘al Qaeda has become mainstream and being part of the movement is “cool” in the eyes of young people.’… Read the rest

The ‘No Ectoplasm Clause’ *

Jul 5th, 2004 | Filed by

Massimo Pigliucci on the neurobiology of regret.… Read the rest

Tupac Shakur not Some Sort of Byron *

Jul 5th, 2004 | Filed by

John McWhorter says rap teaches ‘recreational outrage.’… Read the rest

High Art v Low is a False Dichotomy *

Jul 5th, 2004 | Filed by

‘In America, even the intellectuals are anti-intellectual.’… Read the rest

The Hubble’s Last Years? *

Jul 5th, 2004 | Filed by

NASA has canceled missions to service telescope.… Read the rest

Machiavellian Monkeys

Jul 5th, 2004 | By Carl Zimmer

Our brains are huge, particularly if you take into consideration the relative size of our bodies. Generally, the proportion of brain to body is pretty tight among mammals. But the human brain is seven times bigger than what you’d predict from the size of our body. Six million years ago, hominid brains were about a third the size they are today, comparable to a chimp’s. So what accounts for the big boom? It would be flattering ourselves to say that the cause was something we are proud of–our ability to talk, or our gifts with tools. Certainly, our brains show signs of being adapted for these sorts of things (consider the language gene FOXP2). But those adaptations probably were … Read the rest

John Sutherland Deplores Soggy Platitudes *

Jul 4th, 2004 | Filed by

No one reading this blah-ridden document would guess how serious the crisis in arts funding is.… Read the rest

Louis Menand is a Tosser, Publisher Says *

Jul 4th, 2004 | Filed by

Helps to have a sense of humour, to get point of Eats, Shoots & Leaves.… Read the rest

Sudden Doubling of Known Planet Population *

Jul 3rd, 2004 | Filed by

Hubble telescope has found nearly 100 new planets.… Read the rest