My Conception Story

As the month of March drew to a close in 1993, I traveled to India to spend some time with my terminally ill mother. I arrived ‘home’ on March 30th; my mother passed away on April 25. In those four weeks or so, all spent in the close proximity of my mother, I talked andContinue reading “My Conception Story”

That Elusive Mark By Which To Distinguish Good People From Bad

In Journey to the End of the Night, Céline‘s central character, Ferdinand Bardamu is confronted with uncontrovertible evidence of moral goodness in Sergeant Alcide–who is nobly working away in a remote colonial outpost to financially support a niece who is little more than a perfect stranger to him. That night, as Bardamu gazes at the sleeping Alcide, nowContinue reading “That Elusive Mark By Which To Distinguish Good People From Bad”

Talking About Natural Law With Children

Last Thursday, thanks to New York City public schools taking a ‘mid-winter break,’ my daughter accompanied me to Brooklyn College and sat in on two classes. My students, as might be expected, were friendly and welcoming; my daughter, for her part, conducted herself exceedingly well by taking a seat and occupying herself by drawing onContinue reading “Talking About Natural Law With Children”

Steven Pinker Should Read Some Nietzsche For Himself

Steven Pinker does not like Nietzsche. The following exchange–in an interview with the Times Literary Supplement makes this clear: Question: Which author (living or dead) do you think is most overrated? Pinker: Friedrich Nietzsche. It’s easy to see why his sociopathic ravings would have inspired so many repugnant movements of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries,Continue reading “Steven Pinker Should Read Some Nietzsche For Himself”

Dear ‘Fellow’ Indians, Please Spell My Fucking Name Correctly

It’s ‘Samir’, not ‘Sameer.’ That, really, should be enough. Here is the correct spelling of someone’s name; please abide by it. But Indians will simply not comply. I’m a middle-aged man, about to hit fifty-one in a few weeks time, and my entire life,  Indians have been systematically misspelling and butchering my name with thisContinue reading “Dear ‘Fellow’ Indians, Please Spell My Fucking Name Correctly”

US Elections Invite External Intervention, As They Well Might

The Robert Mueller indictment of thirteen Russians for ‘interfering’ in the American elections of 2016 confirms the bad news: those elections were ‘influenced’–in some shape or form–by non-Americans. The extent of this ‘influence’ is unclear–whether they decisively swung the election to Donald Trump or not–but be that as it may, one fact remains established: amongContinue reading “US Elections Invite External Intervention, As They Well Might”

Gide’s Immoralist And The Existential Necessity Of The Colony

The immoralist at the heart of André Gide‘s The Immoralist, Michel, does not travel just anywhere; he travels to French colonies like Algeria and Tunisia; the boys who he meets, is attracted to, and falls in love with, are not just any boys; they are Muslim Arab boys. He is old; they are young. He is white;Continue reading “Gide’s Immoralist And The Existential Necessity Of The Colony”

Neuroscience’s Inference Problem And The Perils Of Scientific Reduction

In Science’s Inference Problem: When Data Doesn’t Mean What We Think It Does, while reviewing Jerome Kagan‘s Five Constraints on Predicting Behavior, James Ryerson writes: Perhaps the most difficult challenge Kagan describes is the mismatching of the respective concepts and terminologies of brain science and psychology. Because neuroscientists lack a “rich biological vocabulary” for the varietyContinue reading “Neuroscience’s Inference Problem And The Perils Of Scientific Reduction”

An Ode To The Semicolon

I discovered semicolons in the fall of 1992. I had asked–on a lark of sorts–to read a term paper written by my then-girlfriend, who was taking a class in literary theory at New York University. In it, I noticed a ‘new’ form of punctuation; I had seen the semicolon before, but I had not seenContinue reading “An Ode To The Semicolon”