July 19th, 2023
Bravo, Stanford Daily.

They’ve been hammering away at the research misconduct at some of the president’s neuroscience labs, and he has been as high-handed and obnoxious with the little buggers as you’d imagine. But the school journalists were right on the money. They persisted, and they brought the dude down. The school’s investigation found “repeated instances of manipulation of research data and/or subpar scientific practices from different people and in labs run by Dr. Tessier-Lavigne at different institutions.”

[Stanford’s] investigation [of Marc Tessier-Lavigne] took eight months, with one member stepping off after The Daily revealed that he maintained an $18 million investment in a biotech company Tessier-Lavigne cofounded. Reporting by The Daily this week shows that some witnesses to an alleged incident of fraud during Tessier-Lavigne’s time at the biotechnology company Genentech refused to cooperate because investigators would not guarantee them anonymity, even though they were bound by nondisclosure agreements.

Of course some sleuthing would turn up a financial conflict of interest on the committee: that’s SOOOO Stanford. And as to the skeeziness on protecting the identity of sources — why wouldn’t the committee guarantee anonymity, given the Genentech people’s legal vulnerability?

Much of the writing and reporting for the Daily has come from the genetically overdetermined Theo Baker.

This page has links to Baker’s reporting on Tessier-Lavigne.


A comment in response to an article in the NYT:

In three successive labs headed by this man, data was manipulated (ie, fraudulent). The connecting link is Lavigne, who apparently rewarded post-docs who produced findings that advanced his career, and penalized those who couldn’t do so. The obvious conclusion is that he consistently cut corners and closed his eyes to what his behavior led underlings to do. And when the misconduct began to surface, he simply refused to issue the necessary corrections. He is not a victim or some innocent party here. His research was shabby and he has now got what he deserves: loss of his primary job and his reputation.

May 31st, 2023
‘President Biden’s cognitive decline is so severe that to hear the Freedom Caucus tell it, he completely rolled GOP leadership into agreeing to a debt ceiling deal that represents a complete capitulation for Republicans. Just think what he could accomplish if he wasn’t so …


May 28th, 2023
Nice writing about the grotesquely corrupt Texas legislature.

Believe me when I say that I, like many people who have been burned by the Texas GOP’s seemingly endless appetite for cruelty, ignorance, and hypocrisy, felt a certain satisfaction as I watched yesterday’s coverage of it setting itself on fire. Top moment? When the first group to appear outside the Capitol in Austin in response to [corrupt, impeached AG Ken] Paxton’s call for supporters to turn out was around 100 people preparing for the “Trot for Trans Lives,” a 5K run held in support of transgender Americans affected by the waves of anti-trans rights legislation passed in recent years, including by Texas lawmakers. 

May 4th, 2023
‘DeSantis was supposed to offer Republicans what has become fashionable to call “Trumpism without Trump” — the same noxious politics without the grotesque personal behavior or the potential criminality. The limits of that vision are now on full display, as we watch a legal dispute unfold that is just as pointless, self-inflicted, and unhelpful to ordinary Americans as anything we witnessed during the Trump years — when we saw firsthand what it means to elect a power-hungry egomaniac to the presidency.’

Nice writing, by Ankush Khardori.

October 18th, 2022
Some nice writing here.

Sarah Longwell, The Bulwark.

For a while, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was supposed to be the Good Republican: a fusion candidate and progenitor of the post-Trump future. Now it turns out that he is a despicable human being, a performative culture warrior who uses the levers of government against companies who engage in speech he doesn’t like and treats refugees as pawns in his political troll game. He keeps a keyboard-warrior press secretary who screams “groomer” at anyone who disagrees with her boss. Oh, and he’s campaigning for Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, a committed election denier who not only attended January 6th, but bussed others there as well...

[Virtually every once-sane Republican governor] is campaigning either for or with an election-denying lunatic. Ducey, along with the Republican Governors Association, has thrown in with Kari Lake. Sununu has embraced election conspiracist Don Bolduc in New Hampshire. Kemp is campaigning with the pro-coup GOP nominee for lieutenant governor and supporting the supremely unqualified and scandal-ridden Herschel Walker...

 Glenn Youngkin? Holy crap. He’s the term-limited governor of Virginia. There’s zero reason for him to be in Arizona stumping for the BDE candidate who wants to jail her political opponents.

Except that there’s a very good reason: Glenn Youngkin isn’t campaigning to help Kari Lake. It’s the opposite. He’s trying to hug Lake in the hopes that her radioactive Trump energy will contaminate him. Youngkin is trying to make up for having been a Good Republican. Because he realizes that’s a dead end…

Normal GOP politicians who don’t want to swim in the right-wing infotainment cesspool are deemed traitors for throwing in with the “corporate media” and so lose credibility with GOP audiences…


Strong words, well-deployed.

June 30th, 2022
‘My favourite section of the mitigation statement makes the point that later in life, Ghislaine [Maxwell] set up a charity to save the oceans. It’s great to know she really cared about fish. Sadly, the oceans will not have the benefit of her altruism during her 20 years in jail. I think we can live with that.’

Nice writing from Dorothy Byrne on Maxwell’s long sentence.

March 12th, 2022
More about the oligarch who thought he’d get off scot-free by giving millions of shekels to …

Yad Vashem.

Claims of Roman [Abramovich’s] pivotal strategic role in potentially ending the [Ukraine] war felt so fantastical that they might as well have cast him as some peacemaking chameleon, a very Zelig of international diplomacy. He was there at Westphalia in 1648, where he played some of his best treatying, and at Versailles in 1919, where he had an absolute shitter. And yet, many accepted and repeated the claims – performing ever more unpaid service in the reputation laundromat. Abramovich had bought himself yet another day of grace to add to the thousands and thousands of days of grace he has enjoyed in the UK since buying Chelsea [soccer club] in 2003…

Tomorrow Chelsea will host Newcastle, who are now owned by a group led by the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia – but remember, those guys are the good autocrats, because they buy our weapons. And use them in a war in Yemen that has thus far gone on for seven years, killing or starving hundreds of thousands, the vast majority believed to be children under five. But of course, the sovereign wealth fund isn’t the same as the Riyadh government. They just have a good relationship with it, same as Roman Abramovich just has a good relationship with Putin. “Which owner knows the guy who’s killed more babies?” is a question you won’t be seeing on any banners at Chelsea-Newcastle.

Marina Hyde, The Guardian

February 24th, 2022
Go for it.

Andrew Bates, White House Deputy Press Secretary, on Trubu and Putain:

Two nauseating, fearful pigs who hate what America stands for and whose every action is driven by their own weakness and insecurity, rubbing their snouts together and celebrating as innocent people lose their lives.”

February 15th, 2022
The essays in this …

book, especially the one about driving in foreign countries, made UD laugh hugely.

An excerpt.

P.J. O’Rourke has died.

December 31st, 2021
‘Night Thoughts of a Classical Physicist’ has long been UD’s favorite book title…

… with its lyrical meter and meld of sentiment and science. Not that she’s ever read it – she only now, googling it, discovered it’s a novel, and not a long personal essay as she had all this time (pub. 1982) assumed. She had all this time assumed it was an end of life – or deepest night – dirge on the deepest themes: For creaturely beings, we know a lot, but we really know nothing; or, anyway, our cosmic knowledge, full of violent immensities, mainly frightens us.

In the other direction, the microworld pulses with pandemics; or, as merrily we roll along, masses against our hearts.


As in this brief night thoughts essay by a neuroscientist recently diagnosed with heart cancer.

I was absolutely white-hot angry at the universe. Heart cancer? Who the hell gets heart cancer?! Is this some kind of horrible metaphor? This is what’s going to take me away from my beloved family, my cherished friends and colleagues? I simply couldn’t accept it. I was so mad, I could barely see.

David Linden spins his anger, puzzlement, and despair into an intriguing riff on the permanent propensity of humanity to project eternal life. No real night thoughts, no real December 31.

I cannot imagine the totality of my death, or the world without me in it, in any deep or meaningful way. My mind skitters across the surface of my impending death without truly engaging. I don’t think this is a personal failing. Rather, it’s a simple result of having a human brain…

[B]ecause our brains are organized to predict the near future, it presupposes that there will, in fact, be a near future. In this way, our brains are hardwired to prevent us from imagining the totality of death.

… I would contend that this basic cognitive limitation is not reserved for those of us who are preparing for imminent death, but rather is a widespread glitch that has profound implications for the cross-cultural practice of religious thought. Nearly every religion has the concept of an afterlife (or its cognitive cousin, reincarnation). Why are afterlife/reincarnation stories found all over the world? For the same reason we can’t truly imagine our own deaths: because our brains are built on the faulty premise that there will always be that next moment to predict. We cannot help but imagine that our own consciousness endures.

Or, as a much earlier (1745) night thoughts thing (“The Complaint: or Night Thoughts on Life, Death, and Immortality”) has it:

As on a rock of adamant we build
Our mountain hopes; spin out eternal schemes,
As we the fatal sisters would outspin,
And, big with life’s futurities, expire.

August 19th, 2021
Good writing is often very, very brief.

For instance, here’s a letter to the New York Times in response to a column urging secular Americans to try turning or returning to religious faith, because “religious ideas … provide an explanation for the most important features of reality… [T]he progress of science and the experience of modernity have strengthened the reasons to entertain the idea of God… [Our world] presents considerable evidence of an originating intelligence presiding over a law-bound world well made for our minds to understand, and at the same time a panoply of spiritual forces that seem to intervene unpredictably in our existence.”

In response, one reader, David Bonowitz, writes:

On a weekend when fundamentalist Muslims were winning a war against the United States, and as fundamentalist Christians demand the right to cause their fellow Americans to suffer and die from a preventable disease, Ross Douthat had the gall to tell me that I ought to accept the same primitive explanations that led directly to their fundamentalism. Hard pass.

Now, you can make the obvious point that Douthat wasn’t talking about fundamentalism, but on the contrary about a very tentative effort to move closer to religious faith generally; but put that aside. In response to Douthat’s rather long-winded and rather vague account of the possibility of faith, Bonowitz hits hard with a “hard pass,” pointing out in one beautifully structured sentence that the actual world – not the world of yearning, souls, and NDEs Douthat evokes, but the world of the present, the world of human history – suffers inordinately from the implications of quite a few forms of religious faith. Grounded and rational, Bonowitz’s brief brief against Douthat derives its power from the packed concision of his argument, coupled with his refusal to hide the anger (“has the gall”) that underlies his position.

June 24th, 2021
Best Headline So Far


(Onaccounta he just lost his law license.)

June 22nd, 2021
That’s A Moray!

A New York Times writer found this pun so nice, she used it twice.

June 17th, 2021
Scathing Online Schoolmarm says:

Hana Schank’s essay about being in a car accident is first-rate.

Before the accident I went to yoga retreats and tried meditation. I said things like “I just need to unplug.” Apparently what I needed was to get hit by a truck. Perhaps I have discovered the secret to a peaceful mind, and it is traumatic brain injury.

May 25th, 2021
‘“Here, you’ll be eating at a nice restaurant, then turn to the table next to you and there’s an Albanian with a star tattoo, then at the other table, there’s a thug from the Irish mafia,” said an agent from Greco. “The other day I was standing in line at the grocery store, and the kid in front of me turned around and he had a Kalashnikov tattooed on his forehead.'”

A long, beautifully written piece in The Guardian evokes the “it’s a small world, after all” charm of Marbella, Spain. The only thing missing from the picture is King Juan Carlos, currently in Abu Dhabi hiding out from the police.

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