Monthly Archive: August 2009


memories & happiness

This post from Jonah Lehrer is interesting, but I also wonder if it’s entirely correct: Why don’t things make us happy? The answer, I think, has to do with a fundamental feature of neurons:...


Did torture work?

Two essential reads: 1) Adam Serwer takes on the Washington Post; 2) Peter Bergen takes on Dick Cheney.


defining American interests

Stranger things have happened, but this is still worth noting.  It turns out that a slim majority of Republicans now believe [pdf] that it is not America’s responsibility to “actively promote democracy around the...


Likelihood of Success in Afghanistan

Spoiler Alert:  Not likely. Dr. Andrew Enterline and Joseph Magagnoli (a grad student of Enterline’s) have co-written a report surveying the history of counterinsugency success rates in the 20th century.  In this instance, counterinsurgency...


What is Charlotte Allen arguing?

I’ve been secretly infatuated with American fast food since about the third grade, when I got my first taste of the Great Satan of the slow food movement, colloquially known as McDonalds. At the...


food for thought

Parents consistently rate their child’s education far higher than the country as a whole.


If I were a progessive . . .

I think I’d be downright enthusiastic about Bill Bradley’s plan to marry health care reform with tort reform. It seems to me that legal damages are basically an ad hoc way of compensating for...


the continuing oddity of the circumcision debate

The continuing debate on circumcision and HIV infection is very strange. Circumcision is tangential to the politics that interest me. While I’m convinced of my position on circumcision for medical gain, and particularly the...


Sunday Poem Series

Who Goes with Fergus? by William Butler Yeats WHO will go drive with Fergus now, And pierce the deep wood’s woven shade, And dance upon the level shore? Young man, lift up your russet...


Ted Kennedy on the Rocks

Over the past few days, a few people have pointed me to this GQ profile of Ted Kennedy from 1990. It isn’t a fun read – liberals will undoubtedly wince at the first few...


“A Rake’s Progress”

Matt Labash on Marion Barry is not to be missed. Another point in favor of subscribing to The Standard?


Thought for the Day: Musicologist Edition

Upon learning that Noel Gallagher has quit Oasis you’re probably asking the same question I am:  Oasis was still together?  WTF?  Why?  Consider this your song for the evening.


quote for the afternoon

“Every time you hear some version of the imperative “Believe!” cringe and fear for the future. It is the clearest symptom that we live in a culture of wilful delusion–one that actively encourages billions...


scattered thoughts on health care

1.  It is disheartening to watch conservatives take up the mantle of Defenders of Medicare, even going so far as to propose a “Senior Citizens’ Bill of Rights.”  It’s really tremendously frustrating and cynical. ...



Will Wilkinson thinks people should be allowed to carry guns around the President.  Commenter JK asks: What do you think would have happened if an Arab-American citizen showed up to a GWB rally, visibly...


simple little question

For all the people defending bringing a gun to a political protest: if we go beyond merely saying, “you have the right to,”– and just saying that, you aren’t saying much– what is the...


How to make a terrible argument, the Matt Steinglass way

Let your eyes rest on this argument for while, and be amazed. Matt Steinglass has weighed in on the circumcision argument. (Judging from his picture, he also apparently chose the “Alpine” background on school...


Hidden Talents

Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch composed and performed this song for long-time friend and Senate opponent Ted Kennedy – h/t That’s pretty impressive – both as a show of … not bipartisanship, per se,...