This space has suffered the longest drought of real and substantial content in its brief history, and I find it encouraging that several of my readers have seen fit to remind me of the fact. I could lay the blame upon the drain on my verbal facilities known as my masters dissertation, or perhaps my summertime adventures sans ordinateur, but the truth is a far more familiar one: the articles I’ve sketched out in my head are too big to write down. They will show up someday, if only in unfinished fragments pretending to stand alone; so keep an eye on the RSS feed and when they arrive, we may promptly rejoice together.
Link-dumping has never been an adequate stand-in for commentary of my own, and if you want to read what I read you are better off checking Twitter (the only circumstance where that is ever the case). Nevertheless, here is a slice of the pileup.
- Let’s lead this off with one of my great loves and frustrations in the world: science journalism. Begin with Martin Robbins’ incisive parody of sensationalist science reporting. Then read Ed Yong’s remarks on objectivity, neutrality, and whether journalists should take sides.
- “Our daughter isn’t a selfish brat; your son just hasn’t read Atlas Shrugged.”
- Witnessing the Twelfth of July festivities in Northern Ireland this year led me to this must-read piece of ethnomusicology, where Stephen Howe scrutinizes the musical identity of the loyalist marching bands (the ones with the “kick-the-Pope” drums).
- Ron Rosenbaum explains agnosticism. I have a few problems with how readily Rosenbaum buys and sets up the all-too-common straw man of the so-called New Atheism, but the article’s spirited defence of uncertainty and rejection of tribalist debate makes it worth a thorough look.
- This has been a bumper year for exciting stories in espionage. By now everyone has read about the KGB’s suburban infiltrants and forgotten them too, but that doesn’t make revisiting the coverage any less fun. So neighbourly were they, yet so incompetent! Just look at those complaints.
- When I was a wee lad I co-moderated a Tolkien-themed discussion board that was, in later years, overrun by home-schooled creationist kids. Someday they will grow up to be Republican senatorial candidate Christine O’Donnell, whose views about Arwen and Éowyn are oddly more informed than her views about anything and everything else.
- Popular Science gives us a look at the Pentagon’s $58-billion killer robots.
- Lisa Poisso interviews a Lutheran pastor who runs a World of Warcraft guild and who has a host of insightful things to say on faith and fantasy.
- Finally, I must share Patrick Barkham’s remembrance of class and culture at Cambridge University—more reflective of the undergraduate life than the relatively new postgraduate one, I think, but still relevant today.