The Frontal Cortex

Archives for November, 2006

God Is A Black Hole

I had no idea such things were even possible: One day (far off, no doubt), it may be possible to go into a laboratory on Earth, create a “seed” — a device that could grow into a universe — and then there would have to be a way to get that seed, on command, to…

From Dawn To Decadence

Jacques Barzun was right. Once upon a time, Christie’s auctioned off great literary manuscripts. I’m particularly covetous of this Proust galley: Ah, how times change. Christie’s is now auctioning off a masterpiece of our own disenlightened and decadent age, a junior high school essay by Britney Spears on Antigone: PS. If you think Britney is…

Peter Singer Changes His Mind

Peter Singer, a bioethicist at Princeton, is the brain behind the animal rights movement. He has provided their sole moral argument – animals have the same rights as humans – with a rigorous philosophical foundation. But now he appears to modifying his stance: One of the most important figures in the animal rights movement has…

The Wii and Obesity

Last week, I wrote about how the Nintendo Wii is the first emotional video game system, since it forces your body to become involved in playing the game. (Fans of Wiliam James and Antonio Damasio will know what I’m talking about: all of our feelings actually begin in the flesh.) But now it turns out…

The Irrelevent Public Intellectual

What ever happened to the public intellectual? Yesterday, Tom Wolfe expended a few thousand breathless words on the New York Times editorial page bemoaning the construction of another condo on the Upper East Side. Wolfe will no longer have an unobstructed view of Central Park. The whole world weeps. Today in the Times, Jonathan Safran-Foer…

The Annals of Delusion

The power of self-fulfilling prophesies: According to Vietnamese astrology, your year of birth shapes your chances in life. Some years are good luck, others are bad luck, and your prospects for health and professional success are dim if you happen to be born in the wrong year. A new study sponsored by The World Bank…

Fetus in Stomach

Regardless of your political stance on abortion, I think we can all come together and agree that this fetus should be terminated. A boy has been born in Chile with a fetus in his stomach in what doctors said was a rare case of “fetus in fetu” in which one twin becomes trapped inside another…

Charity and Conservatives

Tis the season to be generous, to count our blessing and and remember the more needy. In that spirit, it’s worth noting that conservatives are more generous than us liberals. According to a new book by Arthur Brooks, a behavioral economist at Syracuse, people on the right side of the political spectrum tend to donate…

Why Is Turkey So Dry?

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday with a regrettable meat. Turkey is the sawdust of protein, a big bird with a bad breast-to-leg ratio, which means that you have to dry out the breast before you can fully cook the leg. (And yes, I’ve tried every foil trick in the book.) But why is turkey so…

The Worst Science Books of All Time

Since we came up with a pretty good “Best Science Books of All Time” list, it’s only fair that we contemplate the worst science books, too. John Horgan has already gotten started. His list isn’t a bad beginning, although I would definitely remove The Tipping Point and The Elegant Universe. In their place I would…