Al-chemie

Reading all the depressing news about plastic, which has now found its way to the bottom of the Marianas Trench - I'm reminded again of a gorgeous paragraph from that great Italian word-magus (and chemist, and survivor by the skin of his teeth of Auschwitz) Primo Levi: [T]he great problem of packaging, which every experienced …

No Reasonable American

The latest mass shootings by home-grown American terrorists come during a massive corruption scandal at the organization popularly known as No Reasonable American. Thus some hope (though we've been here before) for legislative movement against self-militarized airheads without background checks having easy access to battlefield weapons. In the course of reading about this I discovered the …

This wonderful life

I've just read a review by David Quammen of Dutch biologist Menno Schilthuizen's Darwin Comes To Town. Apparently, rapid speciation is happening in our cities because of the peculiarities of urban environments: there are now at least three distinct species of mosquito - each descended from the same common above-ground species - living their separate, …

R.I.P Mary Midgley, 1919-2018

The excellent and hugely underrated philosopher Mary Midgley has died at the age of 99, shortly after completing yet another book. She was a subtle, scientifically literate scourge of scientism - career highlights included high-temperature roastings of what she saw as the presumption and intellectual laziness in Richard Dawkins's The Selfish Gene and E.O. Wilson's …