Words And Pictures


“Have you any reasonable explanation of these things to offer?” he asked. “No, you have not. Well, you say you will find an explanation. I say that you won’t, sir, simply because there is not any.” – F. Marion Crawford, The Upper Berth

Purple dye, the fall of rome, and a theory of luxury

“Such refinements, under the odious name of luxury, have been severely arraigned by the moralists of every age; and it might perhaps be more conducive to the virtue, as well as happiness, of mankind, if all possessed the necessaries, and none the superfluities, of life.” – Gibbon, The History Of The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire


"Without consciousness the mind-body problem would be much less interesting. With consciousness it seems hopeless." – Thomas Nagel, What Does It Feel Like To Be A Bat?


In the year that I was born,  J. G. Ballard published a science fiction novel that I wouldn't get around to reading for another twenty years: The Drowned World, which takes place in the year 2145 ... 

the emperor of rome and the king of cashmere

"For the body, sensations; for the soul, desires; for the intelligence, axioms." –Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 

what this site is for

I do most of my online writing on the subject of watches and clocks, for HODINKEE.com, but I have been feeling lately the need for an outlet for other kinds of writing. 

prime suspect: number theory and politics

A few weeks ago I started reading a pretty terrific book on a very interesting subject: John Derbyshire's Prime Obsession. The book is a sort of combination of biography and technical writing, and takes as its subject something called the Riemann Hypothesis.