All entries by this author

Darwin and Hooker and Botany *

Nov 23rd, 2003 | Filed by

An intellectual collaboration in letters.… Read the rest

The Cultural Turn *

Nov 23rd, 2003 | Filed by

Breathless celebration of the fact that these people are human should give way to finer-grained questions.… Read the rest

What Became of Intellectuals on TV? *

Nov 23rd, 2003 | Filed by

Ayer, Berlin, Russell, Miller, Sontag, Magee, Bronowski – not much of that on the box now.… Read the rest

Crowded Barrel

Nov 22nd, 2003 11:58 pm | By

Oh dear, oh dear, I really shouldn’t. But I’m going to. Pester another fish in another barrel. Because it’s quite interesting how lame their arguments are, how beside the point or redundant or both. Either they accuse me of not talking about that which I never said I was talking about, or they say something I already said.

I have to say I found the ‘Bad Writing’ article extremely dissapointing. Like, unfortunately, too much criticism of theory it was utterly, utterly trivial. I mean, was this what the ‘theory wars’ were all about, that some people dislike Judith Butler’s use of subordinate clauses?

But ‘Bad Writing’ isn’t criticism of theory, it is what it says it is: a criticism of … Read the rest

Is Religion Adaptive? *

Nov 22nd, 2003 | Filed by

Not so you’d notice, Richard Dawkins says.… Read the rest

What is a ‘Jewish Intellectual’? *

Nov 22nd, 2003 | Filed by

And what is a ‘Muslim intellectual’? Is there a double standard in France?… Read the rest

An Agenda

Nov 22nd, 2003 12:02 am | By

A few days ago we received an email from a new and enthusiastic fan of B&W, telling us we would be even more wonderful than we already are if we linked to Keith Burgess-Jackson at TechCentralStation. Err, thought I. I don’t much like TCS, though I have seen an occasional interesting article there, and I think finally linked to one. I did a N&C about this at some point – about the quandary of seeing an interesting and/or relevant article at a site which is so free markety-rightwing that I really hate to link to it even if I quite like a particular piece. It is a quandary. On the one hand if the article is good then the article … Read the rest

Brownie Points?

Nov 21st, 2003 9:08 pm | By

It just never goes out of style, does it, berating people for liking things that not everyone likes. We just cannot get enough of that kind of thing. Witness Stephen King at the National Book Awards on Wednesday, as reported by the Guardian.

King called on the publishing industry to pay more attention to writers such as himself, accusing the literati of a “blind spot” when it came to popular fiction. “What do you think,” he asked, “you get social academic brownie points for deliberately staying out of touch with your own culture?” He accused many in publishing of making it “a point of pride” never to have read anything by mega-selling authors such as John Grisham, Tom Clancy and

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Mind Body Spirit – the Snake Oil of Psychology *

Nov 21st, 2003 | Filed by

You discover your new friend owns 50 self-help books. What to do? Escape.… Read the rest

Stephen King Rebukes Grisham-Avoiders *

Nov 21st, 2003 | Filed by

Because if it’s a best-seller there can’t possibly be any good reason not to read it, right?… Read the rest

‘Frontier Medicine in Biofield Science’ *

Nov 21st, 2003 | Filed by

And other strange frontiers funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.… Read the rest


Nov 20th, 2003 7:42 pm | By

I have something I want to comment about, but I keep musing on a different subject, instead. On what a disgusting world it’s turning into, and what an unimaginably disgusting world it would be if the bombers got their way. We thought things were bad before! What with the US propping up repressive blood-thirsty regimes all over the planet as long as they were hostile to the Soviet Union (as Bush acknowledged in London today), and what with the two super-powers piling up ever more and more nukes. But that all looks like a nice cozy tea-party compared to what’s shaping up now, doesn’t it. There is just nothing quite like the combination of nuclear weapons and people who would … Read the rest

Bloody Hell

Nov 20th, 2003 4:21 pm | By

Oh, hell. I despair sometimes, I really do. As who doesn’t. Who in hell doesn’t. What a world, what a world, as the Wicked Witch said. Istanbul, of all places. Well of course. It’s secular. It’s near Europe, and has dealings with the nasty place, and allows women to drive cars and think of themselves as human beings. So let’s just bomb the bejesus out of it.

And kill the British Consul-General, and a lot of people in the street near the bank. A fitting follow-up to killing those pesky Jews at the synagogue the other day. And more tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow – all in the name of a world more like Taliban-world. The worst possible nightmare for … Read the rest

BHL Irritates People *

Nov 20th, 2003 | Filed by

Showing up the unreality of conventional world views tends to infuriate.… Read the rest

Istanbul, Again *

Nov 20th, 2003 | Filed by

Bomb attacks on bank and consulate leave at least 25 dead including the British Consul-General, and devastate Turkey.… Read the rest

Institutes of Technology Thrive in India *

Nov 19th, 2003 | Filed by

Engineers and computer scientists more admired than lawyers and academics.… Read the rest

‘Ghost Ships’ Not All That Spooky? *

Nov 19th, 2003 | Filed by

In fact no more dangerous than most ships. Crying wolf is not clever.… Read the rest

Two Cheers for Nerds

Nov 18th, 2003 9:54 pm | By

Isn’t it nice, the way we’re always so anxious not to let each other get above ourselves? The way we’re so terrifically concerned to make sure no one gets any big ideas? The way we’re so very very careful to make sure that everyone understands that our first duty is always to be normal, to be regular, to be like everyone else – so that if we must do something as eccentric and peculiar and self-indulgent as developing some intellectual curiosity and thirst for knowledge and inclination to think about things – well, all right, maybe we can be forgiven for that, as long as we can show that we’re not nerds about it, and that we realize how boring … Read the rest

They Were Murdered for Being Jews *

Nov 18th, 2003 | Filed by

Hitchens on the Istanbul synagogue bombing.… Read the rest

Amartya Sen on Democracy *

Nov 18th, 2003 | Filed by

It’s more than public balloting, it’s the ‘exercise of public reason.’… Read the rest