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God of the Machine

Culling my readers to a manageable elite since 2002.

Last Build Date: Sun, 26 Feb 2017 22:22:30 +0000



Sat, 03 Nov 2007 15:27:06 +0000

I was on blogging leave last week. Not my usual no-writing-today-so-fuck-right-off-and-read-someone-who-cares leave — actual medical leave. I was confined to the hospital for more than a week with acute appendicitis. (Fine thanks, but a word of advice: if you must have your appendix out, do so before it ruptures.) Hospitals are interesting places; hang around […]

Holiday in North Florida

Sat, 11 Aug 2007 19:09:44 +0000

In the Seaworld auditorium, waiting for the evening Shamu show. In the Seaworld auditorium, waiting for the evening Shamu show, watching the wide-screen video. It shows soldiers and firemen, then August Busch III, or maybe IV, representing Anheuser-Busch, the corporate parent. He tells us to honor our heroes, which we do, with applause. A whale […]

Rent’s Due

Wed, 01 Aug 2007 14:25:04 +0000

It is a cherished belief, in all Objectivist as well as certain fellow-traveling circles, that economic interventionism must collapse under its own weight. Here, for instance, is Ludwig von Mises, in Planned Chaos: Many advocates of interventionism are bewildered when one tells them that in recommending interventionism they themselves are fostering antidemocratic and dictatorial tendencies […]

Shouldn’t That Be “Cut to Black”?

Tue, 24 Jul 2007 22:17:25 +0000

The odor from the stinkbomb that Colby Cosh lobbed at The Sopranos has wafted hither. T.S. Eliot notoriously remarked that the only method of the critic is to be very intelligent. This doesn’t help the writer much, but it saves the reader all kinds of time, allowing him to skip, say, the critical efforts of […]

Netflix Haiku

Tue, 24 Jul 2007 22:07:18 +0000

Pickup on South Street Richard Widmark sneers. Thelma Ritter finks, sells ties. Audience nods off. Rancho Notorious Alas for Fritz Lang, direction translates poorly from the German. Thieves Like Us Is it possible? An Altman fanboy favorite that can be sat through? Cries and Whispers The TV is clear of dust where the red envelope […]

End and Foot

Tue, 13 Mar 2007 23:08:35 +0000

Brian Doherty’s Radicals for Capitalism is a comprehensive, highly entertaining history of libertarianism with too many points of interest — Murray Rothbard’s solution to the free rider problem (“so what?”), Milton Friedman’s sterling character, The Unbearable Lightness of Being a Deontologist — to deal with in a single post. Instead I want to talk about […]

Spring Back, Fall Forward

Tue, 20 Feb 2007 22:03:33 +0000

Our Girl in Chicago, Laura Demanski, has roused me from my torpor by asking for an interpretation of Philip Larkin’s Spring. She might want to quote the whole sonnet instead of its last six lines. Fourteen consecutive lines of verse will probably not tax most readers unduly. Larkin was an accomplished and rigorous editor of […]

Anomaly Hunt; or, How To Write a Research Paper

Fri, 05 Jan 2007 01:34:57 +0000

Begin with a data set, preferably one in which many people are interested. Let’s say, World Series results from 1903 to the present. Now ask a question about the data, one that should be easy to answer with a highly simplified model. Our question will be: have World Series teams, historically, been evenly matched? Our […]

Post First, Research Afterwards

Sat, 30 Dec 2006 17:13:48 +0000

“Sentence first — verdict afterwards,” says the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland; and the trial of the Knave of Hearts has justly remained the literary standard for injustice, since the book’s publication in 1869. Being an idiot, I thought the expression originated with Lewis Carroll, until last night. I was reading Macaulay’s 1830 essay […]

Jeopardy, Perversity, Futility

Sat, 23 Dec 2006 18:45:50 +0000

Albert Hirschman has many fans at the arbiter of all things serious, Crooked Timber. Tyler Cowen, in one of his fitful attempts to shore up his left-wing cred, praised Hirschman as deserving of the Nobel Prize in Economics and The Rhetoric of Reaction as “a brilliant study in intellectual self-deception.” Good enough! I ordered up […]