Because No One Knows The Essence Of Blackness…

Posted October 8, 2015 by Tom
Categories: Conservatives, Darwin, Journalism and its discontents, MSM nonsense, Stupidity

Tags: ,

….like an  old, filthy-rich white guy.


Here’s noted sociologist of race and authenticity, Rupert “Bug-Eyed Monster” Murdoch

“Ben and Candy Carson terrific. What about a real black President who can properly address the racial divide?…” [via TPM]




Take it from a  fellow person of the Caucasian persuasion:

You don’t get a vote.

Or, consider the shorter:

Bugger off, mate.  May all your chooks become emus and kick your dunny door down.

(PS — anyone besides me think it … let’s just say “odd” … that the new owner of National Geographic should fall in love with a stone-cold evolution denialist? Just askin’.)

Image:  Brady & Co, Cabinet card portrait of Georgia politician Alexander H. Stephens with a servant, formerly a slave c. 1875.

For A Good Time In Cambridge (This Thursday)

Posted October 6, 2015 by Tom
Categories: big ideas, good writing, History, science writing, Self-aggrandizement

Tags: ,

Yo! Local Juicers — if you’ve reserved Thursday evening for watching paint dry, I have an alternative.

I’m going to be moderating a really excellent iteration of the MIT Communications Forum — this time co-sponsored by our city-wide celebration Hub Week.

I’ll be very lightly riding herd on Annalee Newitz and Charles C. Mann as they wonder about how (and whether) study of the past can help us prepare for the future — with the possibility of apocalypse included.


Both are wonderful writers and thinkers.  Annalee was the founding editor of io9, and is now Gizmodo’s Grand Poobah.  She’s written Scatter, Adapt and Remember:  How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction, which was, inter alia, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award. She’s at work now on a history of the city (and its possible future) — and more besides.

Charles  has been producing erudite and elegant science writing for yonks*. He’s perhaps best known for 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus which won the the National Academies of Sciences Keck award as best popular science book of the year.  He followed that up with 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Createdand is at work now on The Wizard and the Prophet, which he describes as a book about the future which makes no predictions. (Yogi would approve.)

Time:  5-7 p.m., Thursday, October 8.

Place:  MIT Building 3, room 270.  Interactive map here.

PS:  If you’re into some long distance planning, I’ve got a couple of events coming up in support of my long-teased new book, The Hunt for Vulcan: and how Einstein Destroyed a Planet, Discovered Relativity, and Deciphered the Universe.  The book is timed to the centennial of Einstein’s discovery of the General Theory of Relativity, which he completed in November, 1915, and it gets to that striking moment through a marvelous oddity of a story from 19th century solar-system astronomy, the repeated discovery of a planet that should have existed, but didn’t.  The appearance and then vanishing of the planet Vulcan is not just a curiosity, (or so it seems to me), as its history reveals a great deal about what it takes for science really to change under the pressure of inconvenient fact.

Anyway — the book comes out on Tuesday, November 3, and we are in the midst of planning a launch event at the MIT Museum.  That will most likely run from 6-7:30, with details to come soon.

Then, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, November 12, I’ll be doing a reading and signing at my local:  Brookline Booksmith.  Stop by if you’re in the neighborhood.

*Yonks being a unit of measure of time roughly equal to more than you thought.

Image: Pieter Brueghel the Elder, The Tower of Babel, 1563


Posted October 4, 2015 by Tom
Categories: Cool Video, Music


It’s not confined to the NFL, you know:

You can thank me later.

Grace In Extremis, And Its Reward

Posted September 29, 2015 by Tom
Categories: rare sincerity

Tags: ,

I’m not going to get in the way. This story speaks for itself:

I’ll only add that I found Francine Christoph’s story to be both a reminder of the evil of which human individuals and societies are capable, and a glorious rebuke to those then and now who would urge us to heed our yetzer hara.

Easy Money

Posted September 21, 2015 by Tom
Categories: Massive Fail, Republican follies, ridicule, Schadenfreude, Stupidity

Tags: ,

Bill Kristol, on August 18, 2015:

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 7.51.15 PM

Me, the next day:

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 7.51.26 PM

I should have had a broader view of course.  Any encomium from Bill Kristol is like a touch from Jesus’s dumber younger brother.*  Maybe not the kid’s college fund, but sweet FSM I should have bet the holiday gift money on the under for Walker’s candidacy, fer shure.

Bill Kristol, as reliable as a wrong way weathervane as we can ever hope to see.  Long may he influence the GOP.

Thought we needed more thread.  Beyond schadenfreude, what’s on the agenda tonight?

*The one who made the blind man deaf.

Apropos Of Not Much

Posted September 19, 2015 by Tom
Categories: good books, Writing


Picked up a Terry Pratchett off my paperback shelf today pretty much at random — The Nightwatch, one of the Vimes strand.  It’s one of my less-read ones, meaning maybe twice, possibly even three times, but not more.  I just idly flipped it open and looked over the first couple of pages,,,and came to this little digression:

The plain old Sam Vimes had fought back. He got rid of most of the plumes and the stupid tights, and ended up with a dress niform that at least looked as thought its owner was male.  But the helmet had gold decoration, and the bespoke armorers had made a new gleaming breastplate with useless gold ornamentation on it.


Sam Vimes felt like a class traitor every time he wore it.  He hated being thought of as one of those people that wore stupid ornamental armor.  It was gilt by association.

There’s my Terry! — and why I miss him so.  His brain bubbles were the best, and he had  absolutely no shame — none at all — when it came to transcribing whatever floated to the surface.  I tell my son more often than he cares to hear that words are toys.  Pratchett had more fun with the English language than anyone else I can think of.  I take him as a role model (as my students — and family — know, to their sorrow).

As I warned — apropos of not much at all.

Image:  Titian, Philip II of Spain, 1551.

Bows In The Hood

Posted September 17, 2015 by Tom
Categories: Music, Race

Tags: ,

Here’s something to wash away the taste of last night’s DerpFest extraordinaire.

From the NPR story on Black Violin:

Kevin Sylvester says that when most people see a 6-foot-2-inch, 260-pound black man, they don’t expect him to also be a classically trained violinist. A recent exchange with a woman in an elevator, when he happened to have his instrument with him in its case, drove that point home.

“She’s like, ‘What do you play?’ ” he recalls. “I’m like, ‘I’m a violinist.’ And she was like, ‘Well, obviously you don’t play classical, so what kind of style do you play?’ ”

Sylvester says he explained that while he does have a degree in classical music, he plays all kinds of styles. “She didn’t mean it maliciously,” he says, “but I hope she gets to see us in concert and we can change her perception.”

A not altogether non sequitur.  As I watched this video, I was reminded why I’m a member of the Democratic party.  It’s got a lot of problems, lot of positions espoused by leaders at every level of government at which I wince.  But the party that nominated and elected Barack Hussein Obama is one that can envision an America that looks like the country Sylvester and his co-conspirator in gut and horsehair, Wilner Baptiste, want to help create.  I’ll leave the “and the other party….” half of the duology unmentioned…its would-be leaders said all that was necessary last night.

Plus, and for your early evening pleasure — these guys can play.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 10,629 other followers