Critique Me, Critique You

A few weeks ago, I published an essay in this space critiquing the recent March for Science, which coincided with Earth Day 2017. The March had been represented as a non-political demonstration of grass-roots support for continued funding of basic scientific research. Fair enough. But in reality it was, of course, a highly political, highly public rejoinder to the Trump […]

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One! Two! Three! What are we Marching For?

Hint: It ain’t Science Just a few days ago we celebrated Earth Day, 2017, during which all of us paused for a moment to share our appreciation for our home planet, this verdant and fecund oasis in the endless vacuum of space. Gaia says “Thank you,” by the way. In addition to the usual festivities, this year we were treated […]

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True Grit

My first encounter with the little chow-mix dog did not exactly go as planned. Aloof to the point of chilly, unresponsive to all invitations, skinny and filthy beyond belief, Paris, as she was then known, seemed at first blush to be pretty much a dud. And this was a problem. The girlfriend had talked her up as the perfect choice […]

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An Open Letter to the Readers of Salon

Or: Global Warming, Meet Lysenkoism; You Two Have a Lot in Common!   While wallowing in the bloom of online post-election bloviation the other day, I chanced across this entrancing article on Salon. Being a reliable voice of the American Left, Salon can be counted on to deliver the party line on whatever issue has momentarily captured the zeitgeist. And […]

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At the Shore

With nearly imperceptible slowness, the black of night gives way to a featureless, colorless predawn. A faint dull red glow limns the eastern horizon, grading upward into gray nothingness. Little by little, sea and shore emerge from the formless void. The bright disk of the sun lies hidden for now below the horizon, but if all goes as planned the […]

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A Life in Full

When a great man dies, it is as though a library has burned –Author unknown I was saddened to learn of the death of Oliver Sacks, the great author and neurologist, by cancer on August 30. He was eighty-one. Saddened but not surprised, as he had been ill for some time and had rapidly weakened in recent weeks. Dr. Sacks […]

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The Day the World Changed

We aren’t going to make it in time; I’m sure of it. Departure time crept up on us, it took longer to get going than it should have, and now we are running seriously behind. The convoy departs at eight am, sharp, we have been informed, and we are further advised to be at least 30 minutes early. This is […]

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You, Robot

Asking for me by name, the caller identified herself as “Barney.” And who are you with, Barney? No one, just Barney, she replied, going silent. My assistant and right hand, a young woman who goes by the name of Seed, repeated the question just to be sure she had heard correctly and got the same response. Standoff. Faced with this […]

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In the Shoes of Others

In any business serving the public, over time you accumulate regulars, people who for some reason glom onto you and come back again and again. Regulars form the backbone of a sustainable business, and in the long run they can make or break you. Most you are happy to see. After all, they wouldn’t keep coming back if there hadn’t […]

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Blue Water, Red Metal

One by one, the four diesel engines of the Royale Queen spring to life, breaking the quiet chill and signalling imminent departure. With this sudden sonic interjection, the assembled crowd snaps to attention and assumes queue formation, eyes forward, ready to roll. With a nod and a quick gesture the chief mate signals for boarding to begin, and the passengers […]

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The Road not Traveled

I hadn’t intended to go that way. A series of delays had put me behind schedule and I was overdue back to the shop. So to save a few precious minutes I had planned to turn north on Westgate where it joins Slaughter, and take that lightly traveled road all the way to Stassney or maybe Jones before cutting over. […]

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My Brother’s Keeper

For more than twenty years, the house directly across the street from my south Austin home has been a rental. Over the years the standard-issue two-story tract home of maybe 1800 square has seen many tenants, more than I can recall. Most do nothing to get my attention, and they usually don’t stay for more than a single lease. I […]

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New Internet Scam Goes Retro

For several years now we have witnessed a parade of increasingly sophisticated scams involving various types of malicious software. In prior cases the software was typically spread anonymously, rapidly, through thousands of automated servers or through the use of suberfuge. But as the skill  and the reach of the attacks has increased, so has the sophistication of the countermeasures deployed […]

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