Worth Reading for May 2006

5/31 Two recent takes on contemporary intellectual culture: In the Chronicle, Michael Kimmel reviews several trendy novels in the “lad lit” genre, describing that genre as “a sort of anti-bildungsroman, in which a sardonic, clever, unapologetic slacker refuses to grow up, get a meaningful job, commit to relationships, or find any meaning in life.” And Julian Baggini argues that, philosophically, the “comic cartoon [is] the form best suited to illuminate our age”: “To speak truthfully and insightfully today you must have a sense of the absurdity of human life and endeavour. Past attempts to construct grand and noble theories about human history and destiny have collapsed.” (Both via Arts & Letters Daily.)

5/30 Is Darwinian conservatism an oxymoron? James Seaton reviews Larry Arnhart’s recent book. And here is a review of leftist Todd Gitlin’s new book on how postmodernism gutted the Left. Exactly. (Though it had already suffered a brain-stroke, as I have argued, by the time it turned to desperate pomo measures.)

5/27 Has Ragnar shrugged? And here is an inspiring profile of Ken Iverson, a twentieth-century business hero.

5/26 Sally Satel on organ donation and the kindness of strangers. (Thanks to Roy for the link.) Here is the latest in human longevity research. And 91-year-old Cliff Garl will be forever young.

5/25 Fascinating: What physicists think happened the first few microseconds after the Big Bang. And how much progress have we made toward strong artificial intelligence? Jeff Hawkins summarizes. (Thanks to Jim H-N. for the link.)

5/24 Harry Binswanger makes a strong moral and practical case for open immigration. (Via Not PC.) And Russell Roberts identifies some further cultural and political components of a full solution to the issues that immigration raises.

5/23 Michael Barone has more good world-economic news. (Via Rich Karlgaard.)

5/22 New record-high life-expectancy statistics in the U.S. (Thanks to Virginia for the link.) And the Bureau of Labor Statistics has average hourly and weekly earnings for American workers.

5/19 Here are five fascinating numbers. And worth browsing is this History of Mathematics Archive.

5/18 Why the rich need a tax break. For more data see also this government report.

5/17 Improving the fruits of the Enlightenment: Gadgets then and now. And here comes the Six-Billion-Dollar Man. And here is a website devoted to one of the mathematical and political giants of the Enlightenment: the Marquis de Condorcet.

5/16 Do not miss the excellent underwater photographs from the sunken city of Alexandria. (Via Arts & Letters Daily.) And here is a series of
lovely images of planet Earth.

5/15 The always-worth-reading George Reisman enlightens us about price gouging. Professor Bainbridge has an intriguing hypothesis about union leaders’ arguments about CEO pay. And Roy Poses reports on out-of control conflicts of interest in the University of California system.

5/13 Should we privatize peace efforts in, e.g., Darfur? Rebecca Ulam Weiner weighs the issues of efficiency, cost, and accountability. Shelby Steele wonders why, since World War II, the West fights its wars so delicately. And Andrew Klavan believes that to get the job done we should draft Hollywood.

5/12 Neil Parille’s new web blog has an admirable goal: “Its aim is to discuss Objectivism free from the name calling and hoopla too often associated with the discussion of Rand and Objectivism on the web.” The Objective Reference Center has a good selection of texts by Ayn Rand available online. And this just in: Kathy Sierra has advice Objectivists could profitably adapt to philosophy.

5/11 The home decoration dictators are coming to your neighborhood. (Via Philosophy 101.) And now that the health police have put Big Tobacco on the defensive, it’s time to take on Big Ice Cream.

5/10 Philosopher Lester Hunt explains why he is against multi-culturalism. And here is an immigrant-group success story—twice.

5/9 Humberto Fontova rips into the historically-uninformed critics of The Lost City: Andy Garcia’s movie about Cuba. (Thanks to Brent for the link.) Which also raises an interesting question: How much is Fidel Castro worth? And “Protagoras” asks another: Why do some find it so hard to learn from history?

5/8 Grant McCracken asks: How do we measure how creative a culture is? And Jeff Cornwall has advice to entrepreneurs about failure on the highway to success.

5/6 Is the evolution of the eye irreducibly complex? In this four-minute video, Swedish scientist Dan-Eric Nilsson demonstrates one possible straightforward evolutionary path. And some actual—as opposed to mythical—intelligent design: This is one Clever design for a car.

5/5 A new tutorial by artist Michael Newberry: Rhythm in painting.

5/4 Superstar teacher John Taylor Gatto is working on an ambitious documentary project about American education: “The Fourth Purpose”. (Thanks to Jim for the link.)

5/3 A website devoted to the great Romantic novelist Victor Hugo. Interesting and new to me was this account of Carl August Hagburg’s visits with Hugo in 1836.

5/2 A new book on one of the architects of the Reign of Terror: Maximilien Robespierre. And for something more uplifting, Ken Gregg has a post on a vigorous and fascinating Pole who embraced Enlightenment ideals: Tadeusz Kosciuszko was recruited by Benjamin Franklin and Silas Deane, became a great friend of Thomas Jefferson and a hero of the Revolutionary war.

5/1 Logic and economics: Don Boudreaux has a good example illustrating why ad hominem is an invalid argument tactic. And he has a further post illustrating why tu quoque is a perfectly understandable reaction.