Zeitgeist

Tom Nichols on The Death of Expertise

This essay, printed in “Foreign Affairs,” in their current issue, and extracted from Nichols’s new book, just published is a sobering, yet witty account of a phenomenon long in the making. He adopted an essay that originally appeared in “The Federalist” in 2014 to write the book. So, in a sense the essay is a distillation of a reconstitution of […]

China in Ten Words

Just getting into the book, China in Ten Words, by Yu Hua. Loads of marvelous stuff. Insights not only into China and the culture, but a much broader insight into universal behavior. Some highlights off the top: [the word is “Leader”]: “Historically, emperors have always cut the kind of figure and spoken the kind of language expected of an emperor, […]

About Sam Wang, the PEC, and Nate Silver and 538

Anyone with a serious interest in electoral politics ignores the Princeton Election Consortium and one of its founders, Sam Wang (disclosure: he is the son-in-law of close friends of close friends; the only way I would ever have heard of him, without stumbling on him) and speculates about November at his or her peril. It was because of Sam and […]

Bernie the Cuckoo Woodpecker

William Morris embroidery'Acanthus and Vine' embroidery, designed by William Morris, 1879. Victoria and Albert Museum.

Bernie Sanders, if metaphors must be sought, is an amalagam of two colorful, yet successful, species of birds—neither very good as game for humans, but ingenious at perpetuating their kind. The one, the woodpecker, through dogged unstinting persistence in seeking sustenance bug by bug (or, if you like, vote by vote). And the other, the cuckoo, by the audacious strategy […]

Shorts & Briefs | 29 May 2016

100 years, 70 years, 50… Verdun, Hiroshima, Vietnam… it’s a busy time, and a busy week, for reconciling ourselves to one another on the planet, or doing so ceremoniously. We seem to choose nice round numbers—even decades are best. I reckon in 2066, we’ll be joining hands with Syrians and Iraqis, who include Al Qaeda and Daesh descendants who have […]

Shorts & Briefs | 27 May 2016.2

Had I stuck to my original plans for college and med school, I would have nearly been the Doogie Houser of my generation. But it appears this man is of his—turns out he’s 33… I was surprised to see he has an MD (my defective expectations—hence possibly a sign that I am losing my ability to discriminate important social cues), […]

Shorts & Briefs | 23 May 2016

From The New Yorker, May 23, 2016; Talk of the Town, “Lily Tomlin” She asked if her interlocutor had two dollars, for the Zoltar fortune-telling machine outside Gem Spa. “Zoltar’s been around a long time,” she said. She fed in the bills, and the machine spat out a yellow ticket. “Is that it?” Tomlin said, rapping on the glass. “What […]