Curmudgeonry

On just saying no

Related to my previous post, I have an essay at Good Letters digging into the hypocrisy of evangelicals, as represented by the American Family Association, who simultaneously support the Drug War while demanding that we reject child refugees from that war. Here’s an excerpt: We sponsor both sides of this war; we constitute the primary …

Scientific passions

Forty days have passed quickly and the feasting is over, so I suppose I should start putting together words again. When it’s not on this novel I’m revising, my writing mind has been on science—on the art that is genuine science, and the bullying that is scientism, and our persistent modern confusion of the two. …

On scientism

Those of you who read what I scribble here and elsewhere know I nurse a few curious theories about science, like that it ought to remain distinct from scientism, and that the scientific process taught in schools is hokum, and that reductionism is just as nonsensical when it comes to dominate the physical sciences as …

The lost conservative mind

I recently read Russell Kirk’s The Conservative Mind, and composed a thought about it in relation to the state of this country, which perhaps more than ever before mirrors the state of man today—outwardly self-reliant, inwardly flailing. My thought is that we are yanking free the anchors, worrying loose the cables, and where once this …

White ashes

Last I checked there were 36,000 mentions of Jimmy Fallon in the news, and 8,820 of Kermit Gosnell. It’s understandable if you haven’t heard of Gosnell. He’s a Philadelphia abortionist on trial for, among other things, murdering newborns by snipping their spines with scissors. He did this after failing to murder them while some portion …

Cheaper by the dozen

There is a difference between being anti-intellectual and being anti-intellect, and this is where Russell Jacoby foundered, in his essay last year about the lack of intellectualism among conservatives. As Peter Lawler notes, it’s shoddily done for want of defining terms, which is a frequent flaw in Chronicle of Higher Ed essays about conservatism. There …

Slippery words

You might like my latest post at Good Letters. An excerpt: “We are used to words not meaning anything, you see, and so who cares if foot-long is not supposed to mean eleven inches, that cheese is not supposed to be a vegetable oil and whey composite, that deli meat is not supposed to be shaved from …

Hunting dogs

“When the law is against you,” goes the adage, “argue the facts. When the facts are against you, argue the law. When both the facts and law are against you….” Here we may turn for instruction to Jerry Taylor, ringleader of Cato Institute officials in the unenviable position of needing to convince people who embrace …

Professorial logic

There are many plausible explanations for why men commit nearly all murders and start most wars. It could be that we’re just hard-wired to smash skulls. Or perhaps it’s that we’ve learned how much chicks dig a man in uniform. Or maybe, according to Jesse Prinz, philosophy professor at the CUNY Graduate Center, it’s because …

On the Virtue of Hemlock

In his recent Boston Review essay, philosophy professor Carlos Fraenkel manages the neat trick of advocating a sensible position — that high-school students should be taught philosophy — so ineptly that he ends up proving the opposite, namely, that while it may be the case that students should learn philosophy, this is quite independent from …