Science vs. a Love-Sick Astronaut

Short version: science doesn't stand a chance. In the course of reviewing a couple of recent global warming books, Chris Mooney explains why we're falling to face the facts of "A Really Long Heat Wave." He writes with reason, not sweetness, but just enough piquancy to make his review enticing, despite the grimness of theContinue reading “Science vs. a Love-Sick Astronaut”

Poetry at the Presidential Inauguration: A Bad Idea?

Seemingly the only way to be noticed as a poet in America today is to have an enormous personality, and then to go on and inflate it to a size suitable for mass media spectaculars. (I'm thinking of the likes of Allen Ginsberg or Patti Smith, both of whom — by the way — areContinue reading “Poetry at the Presidential Inauguration: A Bad Idea?”

The Privilege of the Grave: essay of the year

Today David Brooks nominated some worthy magazine pieces to remember from 2008, but surely all living writers of 2008 were trumped by the magnificent essay published in last week's New Yorker by Mark Twain, The Privilege of the Grave, the opening to which you can read below. No short writing could be more to theContinue reading “The Privilege of the Grave: essay of the year”

Why This Global Warming Book is Different: A Review of Dire Predictions

More books on global warming have been published in the last couple of years than anyone in their right mind (or even, anyone in the field) would want to read. Many of them are very good: Australian biologist Tim Flannery's The Weather Makers tells the story from an evolutionist's point of view with great passionContinue reading “Why This Global Warming Book is Different: A Review of Dire Predictions”

Scientific Surrealism: Paleo-Nerd Edition

File this under books I just have to read. A distinguished museum paleotologist, Kirk Johnson, and a friend and an artist named Ray Troll, recount (and draw) nine years worth of adventure on the road in the West, searching for lost and found fossils. The book is called Cruisin’ the Fossil Freeway. Sounds fascinating, andContinue reading “Scientific Surrealism: Paleo-Nerd Edition”

Robert Heinlein on Logic

Crushed under work today, but here’s a quote that deserves remembering, from an obscure but often charming book by Robert Heinlein called Glory Road: Logic is a way of saying that anything that didn’t happen yesterday won’t happen tomorrow. Could this be part of the reason that self-styled conservatives have so much trouble with theContinue reading “Robert Heinlein on Logic”

Ecophobia: A Paradigm

Briefly, "ecophobia" is an irrational (often hysterical) and groundless hatred of the natural world, or aspects of it. Such fear of the agency of Nature plays out in many spheres. The personal hygiene industry relies on it, since capital-driven notions about personal cleanliness assign us preference for perfumes (for some more than others) over naturalContinue reading “Ecophobia: A Paradigm”