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Fri, 10 Mar 2017 15:56:59 +0000
It’s very likely we don’t understand probabilities
It’s very likely we don’t understand probabilities
If there’s one thing I know absolutely, irrefutably, 100 percent for certain, it’s that people don’t understand probabilities. This is on my mind because of March Madness, and this new feature at 538 where they not only tell you who is most likely to win but also update the probabilities as the game goes on. While […]

Tue, 21 Feb 2017 22:59:55 +0000
About those mysterious fast radio bursts from deep space …
About those mysterious fast radio bursts from deep space …
[Programming note: We have a newly extended list of options for labeling our blog items. After the old standard categories of “news” and “opinion,” we also have the categories of “analysis,” “perspective” and “review.” For some reason my blogging software defaults to “perspective,” which sounds to my ear like “opinion lite.” No raving allowed. No […]

Fri, 03 Feb 2017 18:28:29 +0000
Spring in February: More evidence the world has gone off the rails
Spring in February: More evidence the world has gone off the rails
What we’re seeing in Washington is quite confusing to those of us with highly calibrated circadian rhythms and long-standing philosophical convictions that there is correct weather and incorrect weather. Spring has arrived in Washington, and the Nats haven’t even had their first spring training game down in Florida. This is cats-and-dogs-living-together stuff. It’s not “springlike […]

Tue, 24 Jan 2017 12:00:43 +0000
Decency as an act of political dissent
Decency as an act of political dissent
At my mom’s 80th birthday dinner, she told the story about the time she saw the German POWs. She was a little girl on a farm in northwestern Illinois. Her father was a farm manager, and they moved a lot across the Midwest, and it was during the war that her father became the supervisor […]

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 17:29:45 +0000
The real President Trump revealed himself at the CIA
The real President Trump revealed himself at the CIA
You may see some headlines referring to President Trump being “erratic” in the first few days of his tenure (for example, from Politico: “Trump struggles to shake his erratic campaign habits”). That’s inaccurate. Donald Trump has been astoundingly consistent. Trump is Trump — incontrovertibly, immutably. Thus in his opening days, when he has had the […]

Wed, 04 Jan 2017 14:24:35 +0000
Washington, D.C., was not actually built on a swamp
Washington, D.C., was not actually built on a swamp
Word spread Tuesday that moving trucks had arrived at the home in Kalorama newly purchased by Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. They’ll live around the corner from the Obamas, and not far from the giant home, formerly the Textile Museum, purchased by Washington Post owner Jeffrey P. Bezos (Woodrow Wilson once lived in the house next […]

Wed, 21 Dec 2016 19:11:37 +0000
A resolution for 2017
A resolution for 2017
Years ago I vowed to write a piece called “I believe in the dawn,” but it became another item in the very long list of things to which I never got around. It will be about resets, new beginnings, reinvention, and maybe more basically about the importance of creating a life built on good days, […]

Tue, 13 Dec 2016 15:35:04 +0000
Remembering Carl Sagan
Remembering Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan died 20 years ago Tuesday, at the far-too-young age of 62. He had many strong beliefs, none greater than his conviction that science was a candle in the dark. There’s a lot of darkness these days — science denialism in its various forms. It’s certainly not a novel development, but it’s a bigger […]

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 14:46:27 +0000
A disturbance in the Matrix
A disturbance in the Matrix
I was at the Smithsonian Ingenuity Awards at the National Portrait Gallery last week and ran into professor Jim Gates, the famed physicist from the University of Maryland. Professor Gates thinks cosmic thoughts, and we got to discussing the eternal question of whether we are living in the “Matrix.” He doesn’t think so. I don’t […]


Fake news and creeping surrealism
Fake news and creeping surrealism
The Information Age has become the Misinformation Age. Pizzagate is not an anomaly — it’s the natural consequence of advances in information technology, the erosion of traditional media and the strenuous efforts of demagogues to tribalize our civic life. Two dudes in an apartment in Long Beach, Calif., can now confabulate stories that reach vast audiences […]
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