Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Review of “Demagogue”

Review of “Demagogue” “Demagogue: The life and long shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy” by Larry Tye is a particularly timely read as the nation continues in the grip of another political bully, Donald Trump. The parallels in their methods are striking and the degree to which McCarthy held the nation in thrall during the 1950s […]

Review of “Superfuel”

Growing up in Oak Ridge TN in the ‘60s, terms like “homogeneous reactor,” “molten salt reactor” and “breeder reactor” were frequently used, although I couldn’t have explained them at the time. Research into nuclear power became the mission of Oak Ridge National Labs after the war under the direction of Alvin Weinberg. A few years […]

The air we breathe

Most of the earth’s oxygen doesn’t come from forests or jungles but from ocean plankton. A recent survey found an alarming drop in Atlantic plankton levels likely due to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide and resulting ocean acidification. “Plankton is a blanket term for the billions of tiny sea organisms living close to the surface of […]

For July 4th: Bach to Paul Simon

I’m not a big consumer of liturgical music. I still listen to Handel’s Messiah on Christmas. So it surprised me when I found myself enjoying a boxed set of LPs of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion recorded about 50 years ago. It’s in German, of course, so I’m not following the libretto, just the voices and […]

Ammosexual fantasy vs real life

Ammosexual amateurs think a gun gives them superpowers. In reality, trained law enforcement only hit their target ca. 30% of the time on average at close range in an active shooter event. And that’s with training and regular practice. Unless you’re training regularly, you’re not going to protect yourself with a gun, and you’re likely […]

The future of COVID-19

It appears that, vaccines nonwithstanding, COVID-19 will be endemic for a long time. Enforcing masking and social distancing/lockdowns are not sustainable in American society. We need engineering fixes that don’t depend on each person’s sense of civic responsibility. Kevin Drum points to two engineering fixes that would dramatically reduce infection rates: better ventilation and installation […]

Review of “The Prophet” by Isaac Deutcher

“Until we are done with the ironies of history (because they will never be done with us), the image of Trotsky will not dissipate.”~Christopher Hitchens I’ve had a lifelong fascination with socialism, communism and the Cold War. This probably springs from having grown up during the Cold War at nuclear ground zero for World War […]

Making the physician sausage

I started teaching medical students in 1988 and have been an instructor and course director for one or more first-year med school courses continuously since 1990. When I started, there were two full years of pre-clinical course-work. Now we’re down to a year and two-thirds and there are plans to shrink further. Some medical schools […]