The Lighthouse: A Fog of Madness and Superstition
November 12, 2019 ·


The new genre-bending film The Lighthouse is hard to describe. I’ve seen it mentioned as everything from a horror film to a dark comedy to a psychological thriller. I can’t really tell you what it is, but I can tell you what it’s about, and why you should see it. The basics are pretty straightforward: …

A Fresh Set of Organs
November 12, 2019 ·


The Daily Beast ran a test, creating some made-up anti-vaxxer ads making false claims, and those ads were accepted by Google and Twitter, and rejected by YouTube, Snap, Instagram, and Facebook: Google approved the two advertisements with blatant language—“Don’t get vaccinated” and “Vaccines aren’t safe”—and even sent multiple prompts via email to optimize them. … …

Such Deeply Stupid Questions
November 11, 2019 ·


At the New York Times, Eugene Linden looks at how scientists’ predictions about the severity of climate change has become more dire over time: Had a scientist in the early 1990s suggested that within 25 years a single heat wave would measurably raise sea levels, at an estimated two one-hundredths of an inch, bake the …

On Waiting for Houdini’s Ghost
November 7, 2019 ·


Writing this poem constituted my annual “Houdini Séance” for 2019. (Houdini died on October 31, 1926.) It is written in my own style, which I call Improvisational Rhyming. I wait, not for Houdini to haunt, but      for the rest      of us to meet      in pretense      at some séance table.      In life      he slipped off      handcuffs, …

Harry Potter and the Precarious Economy
November 7, 2019 ·


Sam Cowie at The Guardian reports on the rise of Flat-Eartherism in Brazil, where 11 million people now claim to reject the fact that they live on a sphere: Critics attribute Brazil’s most recent flat Earth craze to poor public education, copycatting from abroad and to the increase in social media use. “The internet gives …

Crackpots, Serial Killers and Flat Earthers
November 6, 2019 ·


Things are a bit different now. Any crackpot with a 6th grader’s knowledge of computers can design and launch a website, shoot, edit and post a You Tube video that is wrong in every sense of the word, and search the world for people who share their same fetishes, dopey ideas, or sick fantasies.

Stone-Cold, Motherless Last
November 6, 2019 ·


11,258 scientists sign on to a study titled “World scientists’ warning of a climate emergency”: “Despite 40 years of global climate negotiations, with few exceptions, we have generally conducted business as usual and have largely failed to address this predicament,” the study states. The paper bases its conclusions on a set of easy-to-understand indicators that …

Bright Blue Faces
November 5, 2019 ·


Aaaaand we’re out. Of the Paris climate agreement. Which we knew was going to happen. And now it is. (I did a Point of Inquiry about it at the time with The New Yorker‘s Elizabeth Kolbert.) Google employees, meanwhile, insist that their company must do much more about climate change. Via The Verge: Google workers …

Zealots, Kooks, Extremists, Impostors, and Spies
November 4, 2019 ·


Undercover reporters from UK’s The Telegraph get video of homeopaths telling patients not to get their kids vaccinated, claiming that the vaccines will cause learning difficulties, autism, mood changes, and loss of speech. It’s jaw-dropping. Facebook says it doesn’t tolerate the bullying and abuse of those expressing support for vaccinations. CNN begs to differ: Our …

Infect Your Mind
November 1, 2019 ·


The city councilors of Toronto pass a resolution denouncing Quebec’s “secularism bill,” calling it “a strategic attempt to stifle and limit the civic participation of individuals who choose to wear religious symbols under the guise of secularism.” In the Lexington Herald-Leader, Lincoln Christensen (whose bio is an adjective buffet: “a life-long Unitarian Universalist, political independent, …