A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Saturday, October 6, 2018



One of the great challenges of the  Late Modern Age is how to define a disparagement so that it does not include oneself. For example, 'sexual predator' must apply to teen-aged boys who are said to go horizontal on the sofa and the girl later has an attack of the vapors, but does not apply to Ted Kennedy or Bill Clinton, at least while they are still in office. To wit:

bully (v.): "to overbear with bluster or menaces," 1710, from bully (n.).

Brett Kavanaugh shared the DC Court of Appeals with Merrick Garland, who was its chief judge. Republicans so opposed Garland's appointment to succeed Scalia that they would not even allow a vote. (TOF thought the power play was churlish and did not object to Garland.) But they did not try to smear him.  There was no asisault on the very basics of the law. Anyone who remembers the Massachussetts day care center hysteria -- or the Salem witch hysteria, or the numerous lynchings once common the south and midwest, often in consequence of miscegenation hysteria -- should be wary of swallowing any accusation simply because it is fraught. The latter in particular was often accompanied by chanting, intimidating mobs. Recall also Tawana Brawley, the Duke lacrosse players, and others. No one of the usual suspects "believed the victims" of Bill Clinton.

FDR would never get loyal Democrat and devoted New Dealer, Hugo Black, onto the court today. His youthful indiscretion was his membership in the Ku Klux Klan. He resigned from the KKK in 1925, at age 39. 


Thank Goodness for Global Warming

The greening of the world as measured by Leaf Area Index (LAI)

Speaking of CO2

Fallen Angels redux.

Die Twinnies

Be afraid. Be very afraid. They got accordians and they know how to use them.

It's Natural!

Think twice before justifying a behavior on the basis that "animals do it, too!" After all, dolphins engage in murder and rape.

“Demand me nothing: … I never will speake word.” -- Iago, Othello

The Stanford Prison Experiment

Psychology cannot suit up in the game played by Physics and Chemistry. It is almost impossible to construct an objective science when the very objects of study are themselves created and defined by the researchers, and when things that cannot be measured are replaced by surrogates solely because they can be. The most famous psychology study of all time was a sham.

The Manhattan Contrarian Remembers the First Earth Day:

"Forty-eight years after the first Earth Day in 1970, the scares that got the thing going look, frankly, ridiculous in retrospect."

At the time of the first Earth Day, super-doom-monger Paul Ehrlich was riding high on the success of his big book, The Population Bomb, which had been published in 1968. 
  • "In ten years (1980) all important animal life in the sea will be extinct. Large areas of coastline will have to be evacuated because of the stench of dead fish."
  • "by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions."
"The second most important environmental crisis as predicted in 1970.  You guessed it -- climate change!  Oh, except for one thing:  It was global cooling, rather than global warming!" 
  • "The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years.  If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age."
Then, there's air pollution.
  • "In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution." 
  • "At the present rate of nitrogen buildup, it's only a matter of time before light will be filtered out of the atmosphere and none of our land will be usable."
And Resource Depletion. Limits to Growth would appear in a couple years.
  • Scientific American that looked at metal reserves and estimated the humanity would totally run out of copper shortly after 2000. Lead, zinc, tin, gold, and silver would be gone before 1990.
Writing just five years after the first Earth Day, Paul Ehrlich and his biologist wife, Anne Ehrlich, predicted that "since more than nine-tenths of the original tropical rainforests will be removed in most areas within the next 30 yeas or so, it is expected that half of the organisms in these areas will vanish with it."

Quote of the Day

"Striving gets you upwardly mobile suburbs and gentrifying urban neighborhoods.  Handouts get you Baltimore."
-- The Manhattan Contrarian



  1. /silly begin

    "In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution."

    But in China they do, in some cities, some days!

    /end silly

    1. Most cities, a significant chunk of the year, I believe. Though if we judge by Chinese cities we should probably just declare urbanization as such to have been a mistake. (Okay they do have relatively low violent crime…because they execute for robbery and deliberate assault.)

    2. Insert Terry Pratchett style "unauthorized robbery" here.

  2. We've known that about dolphins for upwards of a decade. More significantly for arguments about humanity, assertions that limitless sexual freedom would make humans less violent, often cite bonobos—but bonobos are only sex-loving hippies in captivity. (And the big booster of bonobo studies, Frans de Waal, has never even seen a wild bonobo.) In the wild, most adult bonobos are missing fingers or toes, because other bonobos bite them off—if they're angry, or if it just seems like fun. (The other promiscuous great ape, chimpanzees, are more widely recognized for their violence, thanks to some widely-publicized attacks by pet ones.)

    1. Oh, I was going to link this article:

  3. Re: ancient farmers preventing an ice age:

    “The findings are based on a sophisticated climate model”

    That settles it then.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. OOkay, so it seems that the Indian bots have shown up. TOF, I really think the above post should be deleted, on the grounds that it quite probably will give anyone who clicks on one of its links a virus.

  6. Going back to check on the doomsday prophecies of the 70s needs to become a staple of nightly news broadcasts. But I'm not holding my breath. Or at least, I wouldn't be, if it weren't for the smog that isn't fouling the air of my rust-belt town. . .

  7. That article about ancient farmers staving off an ice age mentioned Bill Ruddiman, who I corresponded with as a lowly Junior Research Officer in the mid-90s.
    Ah, nostalgia ain't wot it used ter be!

  8. Hugo Black was the KKK's official defense lawyer for years and years, so it was also a business indiscretion.

    For example, when a KKK member murdered a Catholic priest for teaching his daughter Catholic doctrine and holding her marriage to a Catholic man in his church, Hugo Black was right there to help out!


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